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Wildfires have caused devastation in many parts of Europe this summer, and Italy is no exception.
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The Italian fire brigade was called out to almost 33,000 forest or brush fires between June 15th and July 21st, with blazes reported everywhere from Puglia to Trentino-Alto Adige and Abruzzo to Sicily.
As exceptionally hot and dry conditions persist into August, yet more fires broke out over the weekend causing devastation up and down the country.
Here’s a look at the areas worst affected at the moment.
All active fires in Italy on Monday, August 8th. Map: European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
Savona, Liguria (North-west)
Some 120 people were evacuated on Monday as a wildfire raged near Savona amid sweltering midsummer heat.
The fire burned through woodland in the area of Arnasco and Villanova d’Albenga over the weekend before intensifying.
The situation became critical overnight on Sunday, with several homes catching fire in Villanova d’Albenga, reported news agency Ansa.
More homes were at risk on Monday, firefighters said, particularly in the Borgo Verde and Coasco neighborhoods.
Helicopters and several Canadair planes were assisting fire crews on the ground on Monday.
“Half the island is burning,” read headlines in local Sicilian media on Monday, as firefighters were reportedly struggling to attend all the blazes reported across the island.
Sicily has been hit by the largest number of fires overall this summer, according to the national fire brigade.
In the provinces of Palermo, Ragusa, Messina, and beyond “a succession of fires are destroying hectares of woods and vegetation”, reports local newspaper La Sicilia, which added that many fires were believed to have been started deliberately.
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A major fire on Monte Giancaldo, a mountain overlooking the city of Palermo, burned throughout Sunday night and into Monday, but fortunately didn’t reach residential areas.
No deaths or major incidents were reported, but the risk of fire damage to homes and land is ever-present on the island, where temperatures remain among the hottest in Italy.
Another part of Italy badly affected by wildfires this summer, like every year; in Puglia, firefighters were battling more than a dozen blazes on Monday.
These included two fires that burned 50 hectares of woodland in the Foggia area, and a blaze stretching for more than a kilometre in scrubland near the coast between Tricase Porto and Marina di Andrano, an area popular with holidaymakers.
Several houses in the area were evacuated on Sunday, while the Tricase-Andrano road was closed to traffic as fire crews battled the flames with assistance from Canadair planes.
As is the case in Italy every year, the most fires were reported in the hotter, drier southern regions.
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Sicily has recorded the highest number of wildfires this summer, with firefighters called out 6,534 times so far according to fire brigade statistics.
Other regions worst affected were Puglia (5,134), Lazio (4,799), Calabria (3,195), Campania (2,730) and Tuscany (1,529
While prolonged hot and dry conditions make wildfires more likely – and more severe – the vast majority of such blazes in Italy are believed to be caused by human actions, and six in ten are started deliberately according to Coldiretti, Italy’s national farmers’ union.
Italy has registered at least three wildfires a day since the start of July, data from EFFIS shows.