More than 1,500 firefighters are tackling wildfires which are threatening Marseille.

The French city’s airport redirected incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft.

“The situation is out of control. The fire is extremely powerful, fast, explosive, and continues burning everything in its path,” a statement from emergency services in Vitrolles said.

Deputy mayor Julien Ruas said firebreaks had been created to protect northern neighbourhoods after the blazes sprang up in scrubland north of the city, the BBC reported.

French officials said homes had been destroyed in the towns of Vitrolles, about 15 miles north of Marseille, and nearby Pennes-Mirabeau. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated. 

Wildfires have also been raging in Portugal and on the island of Madeira where flames encroached on the capital Funchal, killing three elderly residents and forcing more than 1,000 people from their homes.