Smoke towers over Italian Bay of Naples from Mt Vesuvius wildfire

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A vast wildfire erupted Tuesday on Mount Vesuvius, threatening inhabited areas on the slopes of the volcano overlooking the Bay of Naples.

News media, tourists and residents posted photos of a towering cloud of billowing white smoke that was visible from the nearby archeological site of Pompeii and from the bay itself.

Homes and restaurants in two villages at the foot of Mt Vesuvius have been evacuated as a precaution, La Repubblica newspaper reported.

The raging fire has a front that is two kilometers wide, and 60 firefighters are combating the flames with support from three firefighting aircraft, La Stampa newspaper reported.

Italy has been grappling with a slew of wildfires in the past few days amid a heat wave and broiling temperatures, with hectares of forests burned down in the southern regions of Puglia and Sicily.

“514 interventions ongoing in Italy now,” the national firefighting corps tweeted at 4pm local time on Tuesday. “Of these, 335 are due to fires in forests, brushwood, and farms.”

Also on Tuesday, the national Civil Protection Agency said in a statement that it is coordinating the use of all available firefighting aircraft across Italy.

These include 20 planes and helicopters belonging to the national firefighting corps, and three military helicopters.

Most forest fires are caused by careless or malicious acts, and the Civil Protection Agency urged the public to speedily report any such activity in order to protect the environment as much as possible.

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