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Fire threatens UNESCO site in Sicily


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Fire threatens UNESCO site in Sicily

Soaring temperatures and a prolonged drought have triggered wild fires across the Mediteranean island of Sicily.

The latest is a huge blaze threatening a UNESCO World Heritage site called the Valley of the Greek Temples.

The extent of damage is unclear.

While its cause still has yet to be determined, elsewhere the Sicilian authorities launched an investigation into suspected cases of arson.

Fifteen volunteer firefighters in the town of Ragusa have been arrested for allegedly starting fires to earn commission from putting them out.

Suspicions were raised when the group responded to 120 incidents when other units were called out to just 40.

Antonino Morabito, author of 2017 “Legambiente report on wild fires in Italy”:

“The causes (of wildfires) are typical of the Mediterranean rural area: there are those related to normal agricultural practices but then there are fraudulent reasons, like poor forest maintenance covered up with a deliberately started fire.
Then there is poverty….temporary firefighters paid by the hour . There is a temptation to start a blaze just to be employed…just like it sadly happened in the past few days.”


There are reports of more than 40 active fires across Sicily. As with the rest of southern Europe this year’s summer heat is proving particularly challenging.