Wildfires in Sardinia Kill Two; Temperature Tops 100

Wildfires in Sardinia Kill Two; Temperature Tops 100

24 July 2009

published by www.bloomberg.com

Italy —

Wildfires that have killed two people continued to rage on the Italian island ofSardinia as temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius),the Civil Protection Agency said.

“The situation is not improving at all as the temperature is rising,” General Luciano Massetti, director of the agency’s air-force department, said today by phone. “There are currently eight fires going, some of which are close to populated areas and the tourist resorts of the Costa Smeralda.”

The agency is using eight of its 14 Canadair aircraft to fight the fires, which killed two people yesterday near Sassari in the island’s north, and has permission to use two European Union aircraft located in Corsica, Massetti said. Temperatures across Sardinia rose above 92 degrees at 1 p.m. today, after topping 100 degrees in the region’s capital, Cagliari, according to thelocal weather center.

Today is the hottest day of the week and one of the hottest of the year across Italy, thestate weather department said.

Berlusconi’s Villa

Fires killed 57 people on the island between 1945 and 2008, Ugo Cappellacci, president of the Sardinia region, said in an e- mailed statement today. The island is one of the most popular and exclusive destinations for tourists in Italy. Prime MinisterSilvio Berlusconi has a villa in its northeast near where the fires are raging.

Coldiretti, Italy’s farmers union, asked for a “state of emergency” to be declared and urged the authorities to quickly assess the damage to agriculture, the lobby said in an e-mailed statement. It also urged the banks to allow agricultural companies affected by the fires to suspend repaying loans.

“Few of the blazes are spontaneous and it will be up to the police to establish the exact cause,” Massetti said about this year’s fires, adding that the agency is also trying to extinguish another fire near Prato in Tuscany, central Italy.

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