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Out of Palermo

firefighter sets fires

From The Guardian:
Fifteen volunteer firefighters have been arrested in Sicily on suspicion of starting wildfires and reporting non-existent blazes so they could earn €10 (£9) an hour for putting them out.

Police in Ragusa province, in the south of the Mediterranean island, said the fire department became suspicious when it emerged that the auxiliary brigade had responded to 120 incidents compared with just 40 tackled by other volunteer teams over the same period.

The brigade commander, a refrigeration technician identified as DDV, was deemed dangerous enough to be held under house arrest, the Ansa news agency reported, because he was suspected off continuing to start fires after others had stopped.

Most of the remaining team members, whose private phone calls were recorded as part of the investigation, have since admitted calling the 115 emergency number or getting friends or relatives to do so.  Read More 
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115-degreeheat, rampant fires, sirocco wind prompt state of emergency: with update

Tens of fires, temperatures above 115 degrees, the sirocco blowing red sand from the Sahara have forced authorities to close nursery schools, day care centers and parts of the Palermo-Messina freeway today. Because of high winds, firefighting airplanes cannot fly.
Update: a trusted Palermo source on Palermo in Bianco e Nero's Facebook page says the column of smoke on Monte Pellegrino means thefires are menacing Santa Rosalia's sanctuary. Fires have broken out in the city in the neighborhoods of Partanna Mondello, Addaura, Vergine Maria. The Rotoli cemetery may go up in flames. People who live near the Cathedral in downtown Palermo have been evacuated. Read More 
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