updated 7/23/2009 2:06:55 PM ET 2009-07-23T18:06:55

France's prime minister accused Foreign Legionnaires of "serious professional errors" Thursday for firing tracer bullets blamed for a fire that spread across countryside to the city of Marseille.

Three firefighters and four police officers suffered light injuries, according to the local police headquarters.

Hundreds were ordered out of their homes in eastern Marseille as a precaution, and a rest home and center for the handicapped were evacuated Wednesday night.

Police said the fire was accidentally ignited by tracer bullets fired by Foreign Legionnaires at a military camp at Carpiagne, between Marseille and Cassis.

The officer in charge of the training was suspended after the incident, in which seven men took part. Gendarmes visited the site Thursday to try to re-enact the shooting.

Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin said the shooting was a case of "incredible stupidity" at a time when scrub lands are vulnerable to fires. Normally shooting tracer bullets is forbidden from May to November in the region because of fire risk.

Fillon promised punishments for the legionnaires, accusing them of "committing serious professional errors."

A few new blazes ignited Thursday, as helicopters circled and some 500 firefighters were mobilized in the area.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments