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French fires subside but risk warning maintained

media People watch the fire burning at Bormes-les-Mimosas AFP

The wildfires that have ravaged south-east France and Corsica all week seemed to be coming to an end on Friday morning as the Mistral wind that fanned the flames subsided.

The fire at Artigues, near Aix-en-Provence, had stabilised on Friday morning but was not under complete control, with firefighters were still battling flare-ups, according to local officials.

At La Croix-Valmer and La Londe-les-Maures, near the glitzy resort of Saint Tropez, the fires had been brought under control, allowing most of the several thousand people who had been evacuated to return to their homes or the places where they were spending their holidays.

Two campsites at La Londe-les-Maures remained closed, however.

Risk warning maintained

The authorities maintained a warning of an "exceptional risk of fire" in most of the area's forests on Friday.

Fires were "under surveillance" at Martigues and Peynier, near Marseille, and at Biguglia in northern Corsica.

The Mistral that blows across south-east France every year subsided on Thursday, reducing the risk of the blazes spreading further.

The fires have destroyed 7,208 hectares of vegetation in four days and thousands of firefighters and troops have been mobilised to end them.

Investigators are looking into their causes, with two teenagers arrested on suspicion of arson on Thursday and one of three people detained earlier in the week remaining in detention Friday.

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