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Wildfires For Members

MAP: Where are wildfires raging in Italy?

The Local Italy
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MAP: Where are wildfires raging in Italy?
Firefighters in Italy have been battling to control blazes this week fuelled by extreme temperatures and high winds. (Photo by Federico SCOPPA / AFP)

Extreme temperatures are fuelling wildfires in southern Italy this summer which have killed several people and left roads and airports closed.

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Wildfires have caused devastation in many parts of southern Europe this July, and Italy is no exception.

While 2023 so far has not been among the worst years for wildfires in Italy, the tail-end of a prolonged heatwave has now brought arid conditions and high winds to the south of the country that have made it easy for blazes to spread.

Italy's fire brigade said on Wednesday it had attended almost 2,000 callouts for fires between July 23-26th: 710 in Sicily, 540 in Puglia, 407 in Calabria, and 281 in Sardinia.

READ ALSO: Sicily set for state of emergency as wildfires blaze

A state of emergency is expected to be declared in Sicily after raging wildfires surrounded the city of Palermo, leaving three people dead and hundreds forced to evacuate.

Palermo’s Falcone Borsellino airport was closed on Tuesday morning after fast-spreading wildfires reached the perimeter, and surrounding roads and railways were also closed.

Active fires in southern Italy on Wednesday, July 26th. Map: European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

Firefighters continued to battle blazes raging nearby including on the Capo Gallo mountain above the seaside resort of Mondello. In the Catania area too major fires were reported, including one in the Aci Catena area.

All of Sicily has been on alert for wildfires over the past week, and arsonists were blamed for starting several destructive fires as temperatures on the island exceeded 47 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

In the Calabria region, the situation has also been critical for several days and around 80 active wildfires were still burning on Wednesday.

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The worst-hit area was Reggio Calabria, where a 98-year-old man died after flames engulfed his home. There were also evacuations in the provinces of Crotone and Catanzaro.

Roads were closed in many parts of the region, while fires burned on the Ionian coast between Bagnara and Scilla on Tuesday.

In nearby Puglia, more than 2,000 tourists were evacuated on Wednesday as wildfires approached the popular resort town of Vieste, in the Gargano area.

In Salento, around a hundred people were evacuated as wildfires neared the beach of San Cataldo, Lecce.

A major fire also broke out in Abruzzo, on Monte Morrone, in the Bagnaturo district of Pratola Peligna.

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While the heatwave began to recede on Wednesday, with temperatures falling back towards seasonal averaes, authorities in Sicily and elsewhere have warned that more fires can be expected due to parched ground and high winds.

READ ALSO: Italy is burning – but many wildfires could be prevented

While prolonged hot and dry conditions make wildfires more likely - and more severe - at least 70 percent of blazes in Italy are believed to be caused by human action.

Six in ten fires in Italy are started deliberately according to Coldiretti, the national farmers’ union.

Italy's Civil Protection authority has urged members of the public to report fires by calling the fire brigade on 115 or calling the emergency number 112.

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