Fires have broken out in part of a Sicilian village, and no one can figure out what's causing them. It can't be electricity, since the power has been cut off. Despite this, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, electricity meters and cables have been spontaneously bursting into flames. A fire even started in a water pipe. There's no evidence of arson.
In the Guardian, John Hooper quotes Gianfranco Allegra, of the Italian Center for Electro-technical Experimentation, as saying he watched as "an electrical wire lying on the floor that was not plugged in to the mains inexplicably caught fire."
Civil defense chief Tullio Martella says the fires and blasts seemed to come "from a dispersion of electrical energy, but the origin of the presumed dispersion has yet to be determined."
UPDATE: This isn't the first time fires have spontaneously broken out in Italy. The Fortean Times reported that in February of 1990, the same thing happened in the village of San Gottardo, near Venice. It began when Aldo Calgaretto saw the fuse box outside his house start to burn. Within two days, fires started in other homes. TVs turned on and off on their own, lights flashed on a locked car, and a chair caught fire.
Mayor Lucio Donatello thought it was a case of mass hysteria, but changed his mind. He said, "One day I discovered my car engine running with all the doors locked. Then the right front door burst into flames in front of my eyes. Another time, I was given a jolt when the electric razor I was using caught fire in my hands."
Donatello and Giancario Zuin stood talking and noticed the parked car they had arrived in burst into flames. "We watched the rear plastic light slowly melt in front of our eyes," said Zuin. "There was more and more smoke and then it burst into flames. I couldn't believe it."
Then Bertilla Moran's house filled with smoke because the wheelchair used by his father had caught fire. People began to complain of headaches, sickness, stomach pains, and skin inflammations.
Now, fourteen years later, Jeremy Charles reports in The Mirror about the same kind of spontaneous fires in the town of Canneto di Caronia in Sicily. Mayor Pedro Spinnato says, "This all began three weeks ago and we can discover no explanation. We cannot risk a tragedy through these fires so I have no other option to evacuate. We have had engineers in to examine cables and wires but they can find nothing wrong. Twelve houses have been severely damaged after various domestic appliances burst into flames. But it is not just electrical items. Furniture is also catching fire for no reason. For the time being we have asked families to leave and stay with friends and relatives so a through examination can take place. People are blaming evil spirits and I am being asked to get the priest to perform an exorcism."
Civil protection chief Tullio Martella says, "What is going on here is like a scene from some paranormal film. The fires continued even when we cut power to the village to see if that was a possible cause. For the time being there is no scientific explanation and I have never heard of anything like this before."
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When governments hound UFO researchers, it can also produce a firestorm.
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