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Environment

Man charged with arson in Corsica as French fires continue

media A firefighting Canadair drops water on a hill above Sisc Corsica this weekend AFP

Fires that raged in the south of France and Corsica this weekend were under control on Monday morning, officials said. A man has been charged with starting five fires on the French Mediterranean island.

The 55-year-old man, who was arrested on Friday night, was charged with arson, driving without a licence and under the influence of alcohol and possession of an offensive weapon on Sunday evening.

He was suspected of starting five fires near Bastia in the north of the island.

Two other fires, which have destroyed about 2,000 hectares on the island since Friday, were no longer a threat to residents or their homes, local official Gérard Gavory told France Info radio on Monday.

They were no longer spreading but firefighters were still fighting flames on the edges, which could be dangerous if strong winds were to blow up, a statement said.

Although they have caused no injuries or damage to property, they were expected to represent a danger for several more days, according to Gavory.

Some 150 firefighters were battling another fire near Calvi, on the west of the island, on Monday.

Monks evacuated near Avignon

Although there has been no repetition of last month's huge fires in mainland France, flames raged over about 30 hectares at Gordes, near Avignon, on Sunday.

About 200 tourists and monks at the 12th-century monastery at Sénanque were evacuated, although there was no damage to the historic building.

More than 150 firefighters were still trying to put out the last of the blaze on Monday morning.

The blaze was started after an traffic accident caused a car to burst into flames on Sunday.

Another fire near Nice destroyed 70 hectares of forest on Sunday and was not yet under control on Sunday.

More than 9,000 hectares of forest and brush have been destroyed by wildfires in south-east France and Corsica since mid-July.

Several people have been charged with arson in the south-east.

The authorities have also warned that carelessness by members of the public, notably smokers who throw away cigarettes without putting them out, is a constant danger.

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