Forest fires sweep across Portugal and southern France

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from their homes in several cities

Forest fires sweep across Portugal and southern France

Portugal wildfire | Image: Helder Santos / AP/Press Association Images

Wildfires in southern France have forced hundreds of residents out of their homes in the port city of Marseille.

More than 1,500 firefighters are battling the blaze north of France's second largest city.

Speaking on French TV, Marseille’s deputy mayor Julien Ruas said the fire was "progressing fast" and that firebreaks had been created to protect northern neighbourhoods from the flames.

"The situation is out of control. The fire is extremely powerful, fast, explosive, and continues burning everything in its path," firefighters said in a statement.

Two people have been reported injured as the fire in southern France moved toward Marseille - one of those is believed to be in a serious condition.

Four firefighters were hurt battling another blaze further west in Herault, when their vehicle was surrounded by flames.

Marseille airport also redirected incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft, and the airport has warned of potential flight delays or cancellations today.

Wildfires have also been raging in Portugal and on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

The Madeira fire forced the evacuation of over 1,000 residents and tourists. Three people died in their homes yesterday morning, while another two people were seriously hurt and one person went missing.

A fourth death was reported on the Portuguese mainland as wildfires raged in central regions.

Smoke from wildfires rise above the capital of Portugal's Madeira island | Image: Helder Santos / AP/Press Association Images

The head of Madeira's regional government Miguel Albuquerque has said officials suspect that the fire on the island was started deliberately. Portuguese police have so far made two arrests.

The origins of the French fires are unknown.