water drop
© EPA
A firefighting helicopter drops water over a forest fire in Carros near Nice, southern France, as blazes broke across the French Riveria.
Actress Joan Collins is among the Saint-Tropez residents were have been forced to flee from their villas as huge fires ripped through the French Riviera and across southern Europe.

Large forest blazes in the French Riviera, Corsica and Portugal were sparked by heatwaves across the sun-kissed region, which is already teeming with British tourists ahead of the busy summer holiday period.

Homes and holiday resorts were under threat as fires sporadically broke out across the continent, with emergency services rushing to evacuate buildings amid fears that high winds could add to the chaos and spread of fire.

As tourists continued to sunbathe on the beaches, hundreds of firefighters tackled a blaze spanning 2,000 acres around the Var prefecture. Two villas were destroyed in La Croix Valmer, seven miles west of the glamorous holiday destination.

British actress Joan Collins, 84, told Twitter followers she was one of 11 who fled from the house last night and later claimed the massive blaze had been caused by someone's barbecue.

St. Tropez fire
© Best Image/ Vantagenews
Dramatic pictures show flames and massive clouds of smoke from an inferno ripping through woodland near the upmarket French resort of Saint-Tropez. This was the scene in the hills of Gigaro in La Croix-Valmer near the glamorous town.
She wrote: 'Luckily we were able to evacuate last night, not easy with 11 people in the house! We are all okay. Thanks everybody for good wishes about our safety in fire, all seems ok although fire still burning started by BBQ.'

Southeast France is experiencing an exceptionally hot, dry summer that have made it especially vulnerable to fires.

Elsewhere, around 100 homes in the village of Mirabeau and a neighbouring hamlet had to be evacuated while cars and a house were gutted by flames in Carros, north of Nice.

On the island of Corsica, one fire, made worse by strong winds, has spread across 900 hectares of forest and is reportedly threatening to engulf homes.

Hundreds of fire fighters are working around the clock in southern France and water-bombing planes and helicopters have been dousing the inferno from above.

About 100 residences were evacuated in the village of Mirabeau and a dozen of horses in a stable were also moved to safer ground.

Gigaro fire
© Best Image
A raging fire is sweeping through woodland in the hills of Gigaro in La Croix-Valmer near Saint Tropez
Fires have destroyed some 1,400 hectares of forest and woodlands in the south of France and the island of Corsica on Monday, authorities said.

The biggest fire was in the village of Bastidonne, in the Vaucluse region, where fires, intensified by strong winds, consumed some 600 hectares of forest.

Part of the A51 highway and the railway line between Briançon and Marseille have been closed temporarily, and public access to several forest areas has been suspended, prefecture officials said.

'The fire is very fierce and heading to urban areas of Biguglia,' lieutenant-colonel Michel Bernier, of France's civil defence forces, told AFP.

The blaze engulfed a sawmill and burned 10 vehicles.

'We are awaiting reinforcements,' said regional deputy fire chief Jean-Jacques Peraldi. Around 160 people were battling the blaze aided by more than a dozen fire engines.

Local official Gerard Gavory said that three firefighting planes were also involved, and 'have been surveying the area to make sure no homes are affected.'

Another fire on the south of the island, which destroyed 110 hectares around the town of Aleria, was brought under control on Monday, Bernier said.

'It's a very dangerous day,' Bernier said. 'And the fight is going to be very, very long tonight.'

Southeast France is experiencing an exceptionally hot, dry summer that have made it especially vulnerable to fires. In mid-July, a blaze believed to have been ignited by a cigarette butt tossed out of a car ripped through 800 hectares of land near Aix-en-Provence.

Almost 5,000 firefighters supported by water-dropping aircraft are deployed across central and northern areas of Portugal as the country continues its daily summertime battle against wildfires.

The Civil Protection Agency says it has managed to bring under control all but one of 108 forest fires that broke out Sunday thanks to the efforts of almost 4,982 firefighters and more than 1,000 vehicles.

burnt car
© AFP/Getty
Wasteland: A burned out vehicle lies abandoned on a forest road in Carros, southern France - one of the worst-hit areas.
The only blaze still causing trouble early Monday was around the town of Serta, some 125 miles northeast of Lisbon, where just over 700 firefighters and nine aircraft were in action.

Agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar says authorities are leaving the full contingent of firefighters in place because high winds and temperatures could re-ignite blazes.

Portugal is blighted annually by summer wildfires, and one last month killed 64 people.

There were also forest fires in Corsica, in the city of Carros close to Nice and in the resort town of Saint-Tropez, authorities said.

In the nearby Var region, another fire burned over 200 hectares at Gigaro, close to Saint-Tropez.

The blaze in Carros burned a house, three vehicles and a warehouse and led to some homes being evacuated, according to regional authorities.

More than 270 firefighters were on the scene.

On the island of Corsica, residents were evacuated from homes at the edge of the town of Biguglia, on the island's northeastern coast.