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Tourists evacuated as fire rages close to Vesuvius

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Tourists evacuated as fire rages close to Vesuvius
File photo of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP
12:19 CEST+02:00
Firefighters were on Thursday morning working to tackle a blaze on the road leading to Vesuvius, which caused homes, hotels and restaurants to be evacuated.

The fire broke out on Via Vesuvio in an area known as 'La Siesta' close to Herculaneum, with the column of smoke visible from Naples.

Police closed the roads on one side of the famous volcano as a precaution, redirecting traffic including tourist buses and evacuating several buildings.

Officers evacuated several hotels and restaurants as well as 30 homes, one of which was destroyed by the flames, according to Napoli Today.

Some tourists who were in the Vesuvius National Park were directed away from the summit, though visitors were still able to reach the volcano by travelling along the roads which have not been affected, avoiding the south-western side,

READ ALSO: Italy puzzles over how to save 70,000 people from wrath of Vesuvius

Five teams of firefighters were joined by workers and helicopters from the Civil Protection Agency and forestry police to tame the blaze, which continued into Thursday morning. The operation was made difficult by strong winds in the area, however roads leading to the volcano had been re-opened.

"I would like to know why criminals start these fires. Why?" wrote the mayor of Herculaneum, Ciro Buonajuto, in a Facebook post, suggesting the fire had been caused by arson, though firefighters had not confirmed the cause.

Italy has seen a huge number of fires, particularly wildfires, over recent days following months of lower than average rainfall and high temperatures. Dozens of animals were killed in one fire in Sicily which destroyed hundreds of hectares of farmland, with firefighters saying the southern half of the country had been particularly badly affected.

READ ALSO: Dozens of animals killed, farms destroyed after weekend of fires in SicilyDozens of animals killed, farms destroyed after a weekend of fires in Sicily

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