Fires in Sicily and on Italian mainland — tourists evacuated by boat, slopes of Mt. Vesuvius burn

Above: Satellite photo from July 12, 2017 showing smoke from fires burning near Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The red dots represent heat from the fires. NASA.

(Originally published at 11:40 a.m. MDT July 13, 2017)

Two fires in Italy, one on the mainland and another on the island of Sicily, are in the news today.

The fire on Sicily came very close to the Calampiso Resort 15 air miles northwest of Trapani and had authorities worried that tourists would be endangered by the fire directly, or trapped at the end of the dead end road leading to the community.

The Italian paper La Stampa quoted one evacuated tourist, Stella Belliotti, as saying: “We fled in swimwear and slippers. Our apartment was engulfed in flames. They were right above us. I took my daughter and I went to the beach. They made us go on the boats that go around Zingaro. First women and children, and then the others.”

Various reports say that 700 to 1,000 tourists were evacuated by boat from the Calampiso Resort and taken to San Vito Lo Capo 5 miles by boat to the northwest where the mayor, Matteo Rizzo, appealed on Facebook for residents to pick up the evacuees:

We need minibuses and cars to pick people up at the little port and take them to school buildings. Let’s all do something.

There were no reports of injuries.

Calampiso Resort
File photo of the Calampiso Resort area as seen from the access road. Google Street View.
3-D map Calampiso Resort Sicily
A 3-D view of the Calampiso Resort area on the northern end of Sicily. Google Earth.

Numerous wildfires have been burning on the mainland of Italy on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and nearby the volcano. The huge plume of smoke led some to believe that Vesuvius was erupting again. The last time it erupted was in 1944, but it is most famous for the 79 AD eruption that destroyed Pompeii.

map fires Mount Vesuvius Sicily
Vicinity map of southern Italy and the island of Sicily. Google Earth.
wildfires Mount Vesuvius
July 12, 2017 satellite image of wildfires at Mount Vesuvius. Copernicus Sentinel data, processed by ESA.


Wildfire in Italy causes major problems at airport

Below is an excerpt from a Reuters article about how smoke from a wildfire partially shut down the runways at an airport near Rome (map) on Wednesday.


“Rome’s Fiumicino airport resumed full operations after smoke from a forest fire on Wednesday forced Italy’s busiest hub to suspend takeoffs and restrict landings.

Airline Alitalia announced the resumption of services in a Tweet several hours after the blaze broke out in one of several forests of pine trees near the airport.

Forest rangers said in a statement that the blaze had affected about 40 hectares (100 acres) of a nature reserve that totals some 16,000 acres. Whipped by high winds, the fire was brought under control by fire-fighting planes that dropped water on the area.

The blaze “appears” to have been set intentionally and is under investigation, an Interior Ministry official said. It is the second fire to have hindered airport operations since May.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi commented that if the fire was set intentionally, it would be a “very grave” attack on the country’s “tourism and economy”, according to sources in his office.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mark.
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