In a gymnasium in Martigues, “shocked” tourists evacuated from their campsites

Martigues – “We had the impression of being engulfed in the fire”: the Gribovalle family, on holiday in a campsite on the shores of the Mediterranean, was evacuated because of the fire ravaging a massif and spent the night, like 200 people, in a gymnasium in Martigues.

More than a thousand people including many tourists staying in campsites on the Mediterranean coast were evacuated Tuesday evening. All were fleeing a violent fire against which the firefighters were preparing to “a tough fight all night“.

I was evacuated with my grandma and my great-grandparents but I left my parents and my brother on the beach“, explains Zoe, 12, lying on a camp bed installed in the Pablo Picasso gymnasium in Martigues.

On vacation with all her family at the Source à la Couronne campsite as every year, Zoé was “playing“with his cousin,”when my mom came to pick me up in panic to take my things“.

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It was panic, we had to go down to the beach and we could see the flames getting closer“, explains her great-grandmother Maryse Escuder, 83,”reassured to have arrived in the gym“.

I’m not afraid for myself, but for all my family who stayed there, we don’t know how and when they will be evacuated“, adds the retiree calmly.

Inside the gymnasium, sports mattresses and camp beds litter the floor. Around midnight, children and the elderly try to fall asleep. At the entrance, volunteers from the Red Cross welcome new arrivals and those from Secours populaire distribute food, masks and water bottles.

Outside the mistral persists and the smoke of the fire is visible from the parking lot of the gymnasium.

We are the most crowded reception center, we are on the 4th bus, 250 people will spend the night here, mainly tourists from the campsites in the area.“says Elsie De Micas, head of the”Pablo Picasso gymnasium crisis unit“.

– “We could see the flames from the road” –

Like so many others, the Gribovalle family from Saint-Omer (Nord-Pas-de-Calais,) on holiday in another campsite in La Couronne, will spend the night in this center.

After spending the day in Marseille, the family reunited “stuck on the A55 for two hours“, without being able to reach his vacation spot.

We could see the flames from the road, we felt like we were engulfed in the fire“, says Patricia Gribovalle, 47, in tears.”I have never experienced this“, she adds,”worry“for his belongings left at the campsite.

When I saw the scale of the fire, I called the police who sent us here“, specifies her husband, Hervé, aged 50.

Marie-Thérèse Vilbois, 77, “strolled on the beach“near the Mouettes campsite in Martigues when she saw”flames rise in the sky and clouds of smoke“. So, “I took a warm vest and went to the beach“, where she got on a bus to the gym.”We did the hard part, now we just have to spend the night“, specifies the retiree, on vacation for two months on the blue coast.

Originally from Aachen in Germany, Ebru Mese and Marc Lorenz, a young German couple, were trying to put their three children, including a 10 month old baby, to sleep: “I started to smell the smoke and then I saw the flames“, explains the father of the family.”We are reassured to be here, the people are kind and helpful“, he adds.


Around 1am, around thirty people were still flocking to spend the night in the gymnasium, all “shocked“, “tired“Other buses, filled with evacuees, were redirected to other gymnasiums.

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