Firefighters in Italy said on Saturday that they were battling flames in Sicily for the second day in a row, which had reached the town of Catania, prompting residents to flee their homes and forcing the local airport to temporarily close.
On Twitter, the firefighters said they had carried out 250 operations throughout Sicily in the previous 24 hours, 50 of which were in Catania alone. On the island’s eastern shore, on the slopes of Mount Etna, sits the city known for its Baroque architecture.
The fires raged near the sea in Catania, devastating the small beach resort La Capannina, with burnt beach chairs and umbrellas visible on social media.
With temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), hot winds have stoked the flames across the island, with fires erupting also in the Palermo province, causing ashes to rain on the Sicilian capital, local media reported.
Earlier this week, fires swept through various parts of Southern Europe, including Spain and Turkey’s southern regions, while also ravaging the Italian island of Sardinia.
To tame the flames in Sardinia, Italy was forced to request help from the European Union, which on Monday sent four forest firefighting planes, after more than 350 people were evacuated.
The Italian arm of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said on Saturday almost 20,000 hectares (49,420 acres) of land in Sardinia had suffered because of the fires which killed animals and destroyed century-old woods.