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FIREFIGHTERS

500 evacuated as forest fire strikes near Pisa

500 people were evacuated from their homes Monday night as a powerful forest fire struck the commune of Calci near Pisa.

500 evacuated as forest fire strikes near Pisa
Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

Video footage obtained by Ansa shows an orange blaze raging directly behind a street with houses and cars.


Screenshot of footage obtained by Ansa

As of Tuesday morning the fire was still raging over the Monte Serra hills, which separate Pisa from the neighbouring province of Lucca. No injuries have been reported so far.

Approximately 80 firefighters at the scene are contending with strong winds of up to 80 km/h which are spreading the flames faster than they can be extinguished, the Italian fire service reported on Twitter.

Low-flying twin-engine Canadair aircraft have been deployed to assist with the efforts by spraying water over the affected area.

The fire was first reported around 10pm Monday evening, according to Meteoweb, and the order to evacuate the homes was made by Calci mayor Massimiliano Ghimenti the same evening.

Residents were given temporary emergency accommodation in the local gym and the town hall, according to La Repubblica.

Ghimenti, who is updating residents on developments via his Facebook profile, announced Tuesday morning that schools in the villages of  Montemagno and Vicopisano would be closed as a preventative safety measure and to allow firefighters unrestricted access to the area.

A video filmed by the local daily Il Tirreno this morning shows an elderly man crying out in the street as smoke billows from his roof.

According to Corriere della Sera, another fire was started in the same area a week ago, but was extinguished before it spread out of control.

Speaking to the TV channel Canale 50, Pisa fire service captain Ugo D'Anna said that the fire was “almost certainly” started by a deliberate act.

 

 

WILDFIRES

‘Lucifer’ heatwave fuels Italy’s wildfires with temperatures up to 47C

A blistering heatwave is sweeping across Italy this week, fuelling fires in the south of the country, notably Sicily and Calabria, where a UNESCO-designated natural park is threatened.

‘Lucifer’ heatwave fuels Italy’s wildfires with temperatures up to 47C
Photo: Vigili del Fuoco (Italian fire brigade)

Temperatures hit 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sicily on Tuesday, near Syracuse, with meteorologists warning that Italy’s all-time record of 48.5 degrees, in Sicily in 1999, could be beaten on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the south of Italy, the anticyclone dubbed ‘Lucifer’ by Italian media was forecast to send the mercury rising to 39-42 degrees on Wednesday before sweeping northwards, with weekend temperatures of up to 40 degrees in the central regions of Tuscany and Lazio, which includes Rome.

READ ALSO: Human action responsible for 70 percent of Italy’s wildfires, minister says

The Italian health ministry issued ‘red’ alerts for extreme heat in the areas in and around the cities of Rome, Bari, Rieti and Campobasso on Tuesday, and those were joined on Wednesday by Palermo, Perugia, Frosinone and Latina.

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection meanwhile sounded the alarm over the heightened risk of serious fires due to the weather conditions this week.

The island of Sicily and the region of Calabria in particular have already been battling fires throughout the summer – most caused by arson and fuelled by heat – with firefighters recording 300 interventions in the past 12 hours alone.

The Madonie mountain range, near the Sicilian capital Palermo, has for several days been besieged by flames that have destroyed crops, animals, homes and industrial buildings.

Sicily’s governor, Nello Musumeci, called for a state of emergency to be declared for the mountains, while Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuanelli visited on Wednesday to meet local mayors.

In Calabria, fires threatened the Aspromonte mountain range, designated a UNESCO area of international geological significance.

READ ALSO:

The deputy head of environmental NGO WWF Italy, Dante Caserta, called for more resources, such as air support, to quell the flames “or it will be too late, and we will lose a priceless heritage forever”.

Thousands of blazes have been recorded across the peninsula in recent weeks, with one in the west of the island of Sardinia ravaging almost 20,000 hectares during the worst fires seen in decades.

Civil Protection head Fabrizio Curcio on Sunday urged the public to “avoid incorrect behavior and promptly report fires”.

Although extreme weather events have always existed and Italy is no stranger to intense heat, experts say the climate crisis is making heatwaves more frequent and more dangerous.

This year’s fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average, EU data shows

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