ROME, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- At least 700 residents had to be evacuated as a vast wildfire scorched the Italian island of Elba late on Monday, authorities said. The blaze was contained on Tuesday.
The fire was fueled by back-to-back summer heatwaves and droughts that have left trees and plants in the region dry and brittle. Strong winds have also been a factor, regional authorities said.
The blaze on the island off Italy's northwestern coast was the latest -- and among the fastest spreading -- in a series of wildfires that have left large parts of Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean charred.
On Elba, firefighters said the blazes could be brought under control thanks to the relatively small size of the island and to the strategic use of dozens of experienced ground teams flown in from the mainland. Two Canadair aircraft were also deployed to drop water on the burning areas.
Elba is Italy's third largest island after Sicily and Sardinia, which also had their share of devastating wildfires earlier this summer.
The cause of the fire on Elba is not yet known. In Sicily and Sardinia, government and emergency services officials said that arson could not be ruled out as the cause of the fire.
Islands are especially vulnerable to the hot and dry conditions that have gripped much of Europe during the past two summers. In July, fires also scorched Italy's mainland region of Calabria, Spain's Canary Islands, Cyprus, the French island of Corsica, and many of the Greece's islands. ■