MARSEILLE, France – Wind-whipped wildfires spared the French city of Marseille on Thursday but scorched through two southern towns, burning homes and at least one school and leaving hundreds of people evacuated.
Major highways shut down to make way for firefighters streaming to the area, and the Marseille airport rerouted incoming flights to clear the skies for firefighting aircraft. With winds still high, authorities said Thursday the danger was not over for some nearby French towns.
Hundreds of evacuees spent the night in gymnasiums, and by mid-morning in Pennes-Mirabeau and Vitrolles, city officials were taking stock of the damage.
Firefighters in Portugal are also battling multiple blazes fed by brush in a hot, dry summer for a sixth straight day. A total of 186 wildfires were counted Wednesday on Portugal’s mainland alone and on Thursday, 12 were burning out of control.
Meanwhile, Spanish authorities said five major fires were raging in the northwestern region of Galicia, with 10 others under control.
The origins of the French fires, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, were unknown. Two arrests were made in the deadliest Portuguese fire, on the island of Madeira, that killed three people.