Armani, others flee forest fires on Sicilian island retreat

MILAN — Fashion designer Giorgio Armani and dozens of others had to flee their holiday villas at night as firefighters worked Thursday to extinguish the remains of two wildfires on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria.

A photo shows flames appearing to enter Armani’s villa, but his news agency said they stopped near the property. Armani and guests were evacuated to a boat in the harbor overnight.

The region’s civil defense chief Salvatore Cocina said arson is suspected in two wildfires that forced about 30 people to take refuge in boats or on safer parts of the island. Firefighters used Canadair aircraft to extinguish the flames, along with ground teams to protect homes. Authorities said no structures appeared to be lost.

The island’s mayor, Vincenzo Campo, told the ANSA news agency that two Canadairs were putting out the last flames in difficult terrain and that the wind had died down.

“After last night’s great anxiety and the night spent at work, Pantelleria is returning to normal,” Campo said. “Looks like the worst is over.”

Local officials called for any information that could help identify the cause of the fire, which started at two points 400 meters (a quarter of a mile) apart.

Located between Sicily and Tunisia, Pantelleria is a popular beach and hiking destination with ancient archaeological sites and natural geographic formations.

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