Italy battles wildfires as hundreds evacuated in Tuscany

Fire brigades in Tuscany battled a wildfire on Wednesday that forced hundreds to evacuate as gas tanks caught in the flames exploded, while smoke from a blaze in northeast Italy forced shipbuilder Fincantieri to shut down a plant employing 3,000.

Published : 20 July 2022, 12:41 PM
Updated : 20 July 2022, 12:41 PM

Wildfires have broken out in several parts of Italy this week as temperatures keep rising.

Nine cities were on the country's highest heatwave alert, which warns of serious health risks linked to the weather, up from five on Tuesday. The total is expected to rise to 14 on Thursday, including Rome, Milan and Florence, and 16 on Friday.

Temperatures are forecast to hit 40C across a swathe of the north and centre this week, as well as in Puglia in the south and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

On Wednesday, a fire that broke out on Monday evening near the Tuscan town of Lucca continued to burn, having already destroyed some 600 hectares (2.3 square miles) of woods.

It forced around 500 people to evacuate as the flames raged through the night reaching some villages and causing some liquefied gas tanksto explode, the region's governor Eugenio Giani said on Twitter.

"Some fronts have strengthened because of the wind," Giani said. "We're aiming to contain the fire within a set area by tonight when (helicopters and Canadair water bombers) will stop flying."

In the northeastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region, residents were urged to stay indoors because of heavy smoke from a wildfire that started on Tuesday in the Carso area bordering Croatia and Slovenia.

The fire prompted state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri to close down its plant in the port city of Monfalcone.