French firefighters are trapped in engine amid hellish forest blaze

French firefighters are trapped in their engine amid hellish forest blaze as 2,500 acres of woodland burn on Mediterranean coast

  • Footage showed the fire crew’s panic as they were surrounded by bright flames
  • They eventually escaped unharmed after activating a ‘water bubble’ from inside
  • Hundreds of emergency workers battled blazes fanned by winds near Marseille 

A team of French firefighters were trapped in a hellish blaze as wildfires tore through 2,500 acres of forest this week.

Footage showed the fire crew’s panic as they were stuck in their engine and surrounded by dramatic flames near the Mediterranean coast. 

As one fireman cries that he cannot get out, the driver activates a series of jets in a so-called ‘water bubble’ which eventually allowed the crew to escape unharmed.  

However, at least 14 firefighters have been injured this week as hundreds of emergency workers battled the blazes fanned by strong winds near Marseille.    

A French fire crew were stuck in their engine as dramatic flames burned the forest around them amid wildfires in southern France this week 

Footage showed the fire crew’s panic as they were stuck in their engine and surrounded by dramatic flames near the Mediterranean coast

Journalist Johan Rouquet said the fire crew in the video had activated a so-called ‘water bubble’ which sent water jets spraying from the windshield and wheels. 

As a result, the flames will go ‘over or around’ the vehicle and leave the firefighters in the engine unscathed, he said. 

Elsewhere, some people had to be saved by sea from camping sites and beaches while others were rescued from their homes. 

The occupants of an old people’s home and other locals, as well as tourists from France and abroad, had to be rescued as flames devoured the so-called Blue Coast.

Homes and eight campsites near Martigues, where the fire started, and Sausset-les-Pins were evacuated ‘as a preventative measure’, the fire service said. 

‘It was an exceptional fire, unheard of: it was advancing at the speed of a tornado,’ said firefighter Jean-Eric Lepine.

‘Every three minutes, there were gas explosions because of the bottles installed in the bungalows,’ he said.  

‘Fortunately, the fire did not cause any casualties and we were able to save about 15 houses’.

One fireman cried that he could not get out amid the flames (right) before the driver activated a series of water jets (left) to allow the crew to escape unharmed  

A man uses a garden hose to drench his house before being evacuated as a wildfire burns in the background, in La Couronne, near Marseille

Three Canadair planes of the French Securite Civile flying past a column of smoke, as wildfires broke out in La Couronne

Parisian Luisa Amoura  saw her mobile home devoured by flames at the Lou Cigalou caravan park. 

‘It is like a movie set,’ she said of the graveyard of scarred trees and burned-out bungalows and cars.   

Amoura recounted that ‘people were packing bags in a panic… we climbed some rocks near the beach to take refuge.’

In hot, dry summer conditions, the fires broke out late Tuesday afternoon, and spread quickly, fanned by the wind – up to five miles in two hours, firefighters said.

‘There was panic, we had to go down to the beach and we could see the flames coming closer,’ said Maryse Escuder, 83.  

‘We left everything behind,’ added Gisele Aberlen, a retiree who abandoned her mobile home in one of the destroyed camps and spent the night on a camp bed in an emergency reception centre. 

Many others were taken in by locals whose homes were spared.

The blazes were brought under control on Wednesday, said a firefighter, as winds eased.

One of the fires, near the industrial port of Marseille-Fos, destroyed 320 acres and damaged a home and several businesses. 

Between 2015 and 2019, some 23,000 acres of forest burnt on average each year on France’s Mediterranean coast.

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