Accessibility links

Wildfires Plague Southern Europe, Mediterranean Islands 

Summer wildfires continue to rage across forests on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia. Spain and Greece are also dealing with blazes.

Italian and French authorities have detained a number of people suspected of starting the forest fires that have ravaged Sardinia and Corsica. Hundreds of firefighters, using helicopters and aircraft, continue to fight blazes that are being fueled by record-high temperatures and summer winds.

In Sardinia, between 15,000 and 25,000 hectares of vegetation have gone up in smoke. Residents are devastated.

This man said the results of the fires are a wound that will not heal for the next 20 years.

Sardinia's governor said he would ask the government to declare a state of natural disaster on the island after he surveyed damage by helicopter.

Ugo Cappellacci said the fire damage presented a ghostly scene that showed an appalling tragedy.

He added that he felt extreme anger at the possibility the fires may have been lit intentionally. The fires in Sardinia are believed to be the worst since August 1989 when 13 people lost their lives in Gallura.

Dozens of people had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation, tourists were reportedly forced into the sea to avoid the flames, scores of residences had to be evacuated, and a prison was emptied with inmates taken to the beach under escort.

In Corsica, helicopters and aircraft are busy in the areas of Aulenne and Peri, about 30 kilometers from Ajaccio.

Spain has been hardest hit. Active fires are consuming forests around the ancient town of Aliaga, in Aragon, 180 kilometers north of the Mediterranean port of Valencia. Six firefighters have been killed and the country is on maximum wildfire alert.

In Greece, firefighters are still battling blazes that have hit the southern Peloponnese region and island of Evia.