23rd September 2023 – (Northern Sicily) Devastating wildfires have engulfed vast areas of northern Sicily, leading to the tragic deaths of two individuals and the evacuation of hundreds, according to local media reports on Saturday.
The flames swept through regions surrounding Palermo, the capital of Sicily, with particular impact on the popular coastal resort town of Cefalu. Local media sources confirmed the loss of a woman and an elderly man who tragically lost their lives while attempting to escape the advancing inferno.
On Friday night, approximately 700 individuals were urgently evacuated from a hotel near Cefalu as the flames approached. Fortunately, after the danger subsided, they were able to return to the hotel.
Authorities, including the police and firefighters, are currently investigating the cause of the wildfires. At present, there are no immediate indications as to what may have sparked the blazes.
This year, wildfires have wreaked unprecedented havoc on the southern Italian island of Sicily. Between late May and August, an extended period of scorching heat and drought gripped much of Italy. Although the weather has since cooled, the threat of wildfires persists due to unseasonably light rainfall.
In August, Coldiretti, Italy’s main agricultural union, estimated that wildfires had already consumed over 600 square kilometres of land on Sicily this year, surpassing the total from the entire year of 2022. The recent wave of fires will only contribute to this alarming figure.
Authorities suspect arson as a potential cause for several of the wildfires in Sicily and other parts of Italy this year, as reported by regional officials and news outlets. However, no arrests related to arson have been made public thus far.
As Sicily grapples with the devastating impact of these wildfires, efforts to contain and extinguish the flames, as well as prevent further outbreaks, remain a top priority for the affected communities and the authorities involved.