A family’s birthday celebration became a ‘terrifying’ ordeal as forest fires started 100 metres from their holiday resort in the South of France.
Eighteen members of the Marriage family – from Newbury and Burghclere – travelled to Gigaro last weekend to celebrate Hugh Marriage’s 70th birthday.
But the party was cut short on Monday evening when the raging fires, which have spread through the Riviera, started.
Ollie Marriage, from Newbury, said: “The speed that it spread was terrifying.
“The Mistral winds have reached speeds of 40mph and this helped the fire to spread quicker.
“It was quite frightening when we saw it.
“Every year they do get these forest fires down here, but it’s been so dry this year and the wind has been so strong, any embers have been blown in the wind.”
The holiday development where they were staying was separated into two sections and housed approximately 100 villas.
The top part of the development was evacuated, but the bottom part, where the Marriages were staying, was not.
Mr Marriage said: “We took the campervan elsewhere for the night.”
He added: “The pilots in the aircraft were incredible in what they were doing.
“It was quite frightening to watch and thinking about the bravery of those who were flying the planes and risking their lives.
“They were getting so close to the flames and the smoke.”
The family were on holiday to celebrate the birthday of Hugh Marriage, from Burghclere.
Ollie said: “His birthday was in March, but it’s not fun going on holiday in March.
“Now the fire is pretty much extinguished in this area we are going to crack on with the holiday.
“I went cycling this morning to the coast to the west, and there were still big fires in Bormes-les-Mimosas.”
Kintbury author Robert Harris is currently at his holiday home in Bormes-les-Mimosas and he tweeted that at 2.50am he had been evacuated from Cap Benat.
He added: “It adds a certain drama to a holiday.”