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Residents evacuated as wildfires take hold near Genoa

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Residents evacuated as wildfires take hold near Genoa
The fire broke out late on Monday night. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco
11:47 CET+01:00
Several houses have been destroyed and a section of motorway closed this morning as wildfires blazed on the hills around Genoa.

Dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes as the fire spread near the town of Cogoleto, a coastal town north of the city of Genoa.

Schools in the area have been closed, local media reports, as has the stretch of the A10 highway between Varazze and Arenzano.

No serious injuries have been reported but several people have been taken to hospital, local media reports.

The fire brigade is using helicopters and aircraft to combat the flames, and said 70 firefighers were on the scene.

It added in a tweet that the flames were fanned by unusually strong winds of up to 100 kilomtres per hour, which swept across northern and central Italy on Monday night and Tuesday.

At least two houses were destroyed after catching fire, and some 50 people spent the night in a school gym, while many others slept in their cars or at the homes of friends, according to the Cogoleto Mayor Marina Costa 

Liguria's regional governer said he suspected arson.

"I hope the fire was not started on purpose but I fear that it was," Liguria Governor Giovanni Toti told local media.

"Severe punishment should be contemplated for people whose actions endanger nature, properties and, above all, human lives".

Wildfires are sadly not unknown in this part of Italy, however they tend to happen in the dry summer months.

The Liguria region is still reeling from extensive storm damage after high winds battered the Genoa coastline in October last year.

READ ALSO: Hundreds of Maserati destroyed in Savona port blaze

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