About 1,000 residents and tourists have been evacuated from areas of western Sardinia that were ravaged by wildfires over the weekend, with forests, pastures and villages on the Italian island engulfed in flames.
“It is a disaster without precedent,” said the region’s governor, Christian Solinas, invoking a state of emergency on Sunday.
No deaths or injuries have been reported, the Italian authorities said. But the fires were still raging on Monday, when four firefighting planes from France and Greece joined the Italian firefighters’ air fleet to help control the flames.
Since early Saturday, when the wildfires started near a forest by the village of Bonacardo, at least 50,000 acres of land have gone up in flames. Hundreds of sheep, goats, cows and pigs died after being trapped in barns at farms in the fires’ path, despite emergency workers’ efforts to save them.
The cause of the fires is not yet clear.
Wildfires are common in Sardinia’s dry Mediterranean environment in the summer, especially as hot southwestern winds blow on days when temperatures reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit, as has been the case in the past few days.
“These are extraordinary fires for the magnitude, but also ordinary for the season and the speed, unfortunately,” said Gianfilippo Micillo, the head of the Italian firefighters’ wildfires coordination department. “These fires create their own microclimate and propagate very fast.”
Mr. Micillo said that Italy was experiencing an increase in wildfires this year, as happens every four or five years, when low bushes and scrub grow enough in deserted areas to become fuel for a spark ignited accidentally, or intentionally, by human activity.
Italy has registered almost 13,000 more wildfires than last year, mostly in the southern regions of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, firefighters said.