Firefighters are working to put out forest fires that have spread rapidly in parts of southwestern Sardinia, destroying 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forest and forcing 1,500 people to be evacuated from their homes .
Many agricultural businesses and private properties have been damaged by the fires, which started on Saturday in the province of Oristano.
The EU on Sunday sent four firefighting planes, including two Canadair planes supplied by France, to support 11 planes working to put out the fires raging near 13 cities. The efforts were hampered by strong and hot winds.
Newspapers in Sardinia described the fires as “apocalyptic”, with damage equivalent to or potentially eclipsing that caused by forest fires in 1983 and 1994.
About 400 people were evacuated from their homes in the small town of Scano di Montiferro over the weekend, and hundreds more were evacuated from towns and villages such as Santu Lussurgiu, Cuglieri, Sennariolo, Tresnuraghes, Magomadas, Flussio and Tinnura.
“I put my family in the car and we escaped,” Carlo Inzis, owner of an auto parts company in Cuglieri, told La Nuova Sardegna. “We went first to Sennariolo, then to Macomer and then to Bosa… Basically we spent the whole night fleeing.
Livio and Anna Sias told a similar story: “There were seven of us in the car… There were flames in front of our house – they were taller than the trees.
There are fears that the fires could spread to Nuoro, a province in western Sardinia. More than 7,000 firefighters and volunteers were working to put out the fires.
“The fires continue to be active on different fronts. All the available teams are there, ”the Oristano firefighting unit said in a statement on Sunday.
Regional authorities declared a “state of calamity” as they sought funds from the central government to repair the damage and economically support those affected. “We need an immediate support plan,” said Christian Solinas, President of Sardinia.