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Heat and drought feed wildfires in Italy, beaches near Rome threatened

ROME (Reuters) – Italian firefighters fought more than 1,000 wildfires on Monday amid high temperatures and drought, including three near Rome’s beach neighborhood of Ostia, the fire brigade said.

With half the average rainfall last month and temperatures higher than normal, occasionally touching 40 degrees Celsius in the south, fields and forests have turned into perfect kindling, the national agricultural association Coldiretti said.

“The situation is very serious … Rome must not be left alone to face this environmental disaster,” the city’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, said during a tour of an area hit by fire.

Raggi said fires in the capital could have been the work of arsonists and police said they had detained several people on suspicion of setting fires, including one in Rome.

One man died when he fell from the roof of his warehouse, which was threatened by a fire near the southern city of Naples, broadcaster SkyTG 24 reported.

Last week, hundreds of tourists were evacuated by boat in Sicily to escape blazes there, while fires raged on Campania’s Mount Vesuvius. The slopes of the volcano near Naples continued to burn on Monday.

Firefighters said they were called to battle 280 fires in Lazio, the region that includes Rome, and 250 in Campania, 150 in Tuscany, 110 in Calabria, and 100 in Apulia. Firefighting aircraft had been asked to intervene 31 times to tackle large blazes on Monday, the Civil Protection agency said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by…

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