Fig.1. Fires in Southern Italy Record-setting heat has been plaguing southern Italy this summer, increasing the fire danger across the country. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aqua satellite on 24 July 2003, shows numerous fires detected by MODIS and marked with red dots. Dust from the Sahara Desert hangs over the southwest part of the scene, softening the appearance of Tunisia (bottom left), Sardinia (top left), and Sicily (bottom center). For details see:
Fig.2. Fire-weather forecast for Europe, 29 July 2003.
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)
Italy: Fires in southern Italy- GFMC summery
29 July 2003
Southern Italy, to which so far the problem of the water scarceness had been saved, is fighting against fires, which caused already enormous damages particularly in Calabria and in the area of Salento in the region Apulia.. Hundreds of hectare shrubland were destroyed. On Saturday also a fire at the slopes of the Vesuvs was extinguished. Several hundred task forces are busy all over Italy with fire-fighting operations.”The high temperatures and the drought endanger the South Italies completely”, said the General Director of the Italian Foresters Society, Giuseppe Di Croce. Most fires are caused by arson. In addition, heat and strong wind contribute the spread of fires.
Fires in Southern France: Four died and 8 000 hectares devastated
Source: Le Monde, 29 July 2003
President Jacques Chirac promised “sanctions of an extraordinary gravity” against the pyromaniacs, who seem to be the cause of several fires: Incendiary compositions have been found near the hotspots.
On Tuesday at daybreak the water bombers began again their rotations over the three fires still in progress in Le Var, where two British vacationers died in the flames. Moreover 900 firemen continued to fight Tuesday morning against the flames, wich had destroyed 7. 500 hectares of pine forests.
The fire front spread of several kilometers and reached on Monday around 11 p.m. the periphery of the seaside resort of Sainte-Maxime on the gulf of Saint-Tropez, causing scenes of panic, plunging the city in darkness and making the telephone impracticable.
According to a first official assessment, four people died. Between 50 and 60 houses were destroyed or touched by the flames. The firemen and the mayor of Frejus, Elie Brun, denounced “the criminal behavior of the pyromaniacs”, noting that about thirty hotspots had been counted on Monday, “often at the same time and in places close to the others”. “On Frejus incendiary compositions, i.e. bottles with wicks inside, were found”, affirmed the mayor of Frejus.
Fires in Southern France: Italian reinforcement
Source: Le Monde, 29 July 2003
Civil Safety had to appeal on Monday with reinforcement of Italian firefighters to fight fires which devastate southern France. The fires are without precedent in terms of violence and simultanety.
In Corsica the fires are spreading in the north of Bonifacio where a man was seriously burned and operations of evacuations were carried out by air and sea.
In Hautes-Alpes a hundred hectares were destroyed near Montbrison.
For fire statistics of France : See GFMC statistics page for France: