Italy wildfire: Fishermen rescue hundreds of tourists by boat

July 13 (UPI) — About 700 tourists threatened by wildfires were rescued by boats from a beach resort in Sicily as flames burned in southern Italy, local officials said.

As fires reached the resort of Calampiso, local authorities — including Matteo Rizzo, the mayor of the nearby town of San Vito Lo Capo — appealed for the help of fishermen and anyone who owned a boat to help with an evacuation on Wednesday. No injuries were reported.

In a Facebook post, Rizzo called on “anyone with safe and reliable boats” on his “friendly and generous” town to help evacuate the people in the “very urgent” situation.

“We need minibuses and cars to pick people up at the little port and take them to school buildings,” Rizzo wrote. “Let’s all do something.”

Italy’s Vigili del Fuoco fire and rescue service on Thursday said it is involved in 849 operations nationwide, of which 482 are wildfire operations. The most intense fires are occurring in Mount Vesuvius in Italy’s southern Campania regon.

Temperatures in southern Italy have reached to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit after months of little rainfall. Italy’s opposition politicians are demanding the government declare a state of emergency due to the wildfires. Italy last week declared an emergency due to a drought in the northern Parma and Piacenza provinces.

The World Wildlife Fund warned that the fire at Mount Vesuvius threatens thousands of people and animals, as well as a nearby wildlife nature reserve. Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said a man was arrested this week on suspicion of arson.

“If someone set fire to Vesuvius, I want to see them in jail for 15 years,” Galletti told the Italian media.

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