Hundreds of tourists evacuated from Sicilian beaches as forest fires rage

Tourists evacuated from beach in Sicily Sunday

  TRAPANI, Sicily – Forest fires forced the closure of Trapani airport last week end and hundreds of tourists were evacuated by boat and dinghy from Tonnara di Scopello to coast guard vessels as flames forced residents to abandon seaside villas, firefighters said.

 The SS119 state highway was closed near the town of Alcamo to allow firemen to fight the blaze Sunday while several fires erupted in Palermo province including parts of Monte Pellegrino on the outskirts of the island capital.

 Canadair firefighting aircraft blasted water on the flames backed by helicopters while Trapani airport was re-opened Monday morning. Tourism was badly hit in Sicily this summer due to a fire that closed the aiport of Catania for several days.

 Some 200 tourists were evacuated from Tonnara di Scopello, the coast guard said.