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article imageArson suspected as fire in southeast France brought under control

By AFP     Sep 2, 2017 in Environment

A forest fire in southesastern France that destroyed about 460 acres near urban areas was brought under control on Sunday, authorities said, adding that an investigation had been opened into suspected arson.

Two homes were destroyed in the fire that broke out in two areas on Saturday night near Hyeres, and hundreds of people were evacuated from the area.

"Fires don't just break out like that, especially when we're talking about two fires on a night of Mistral winds, a half-hour apart," said Francois de Canson, the mayor of La-Londe-les-Maures.

The state prosecutor in nearby Toulon, Bernard Marchal, said it had opened an investigation.

"The fire services suspect human origins," he told AFP, adding that one of the fires broke out right at the side of a road.

About 450 firefighters were battling the flames on Sunday, and reinforcements were requested from neighbouring districts.

Several roads, as well as a high-voltage power line, were also cut off at the request of the fire department.

"I was in bed when my son called to tell me to get up, there was a fire coming near," said Jean-Pierre, a retiree who lives near La Londe.

"I hosed down the house, and the police came but I refused to evacuate. The fire fighters arrived just in time, they saved my house and my chickens."

But up the hill, one of his neighbours was not so lucky: his house was consumed by the flames.

This summer has seen blazes across southern France, which is experiencing a particularly hot and dry season.

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