Early in the afternoon of Tuesday, July 9, lightning struck the site of Segesta on Sicily, setting at least two separate grass fires within the grounds of the archaeological park. Due to the location of the lightning strikes, both the Greek-style theater and the 5th century BC Doric temple – one of the best-preserved and most important examples of Doric architecture surviving from the ancient world – were in great danger. The site was evacuated, and local fire crews responded swiftly and effectively with tactics including airdrops of water. Although the line of the fire approached the temple from both the northeast and the northwest, and reached within approximately 50 yards of the building, responders managed to extinguish it before it caused any damage to the structure. The theater was also unharmed, as were the remains of the city’s agora and of the Byzantine church above it. Tragically, a young child playing on the beach below the site was killed by lightning.
The picture below, which I took the following day, shows the extent of the fire damage to the surrounding countryside, and its proximity to the temple. It was taken just below the agora. The charred area is to the right; a second area of fire damage behind the temple, which reached even closer to it, is not visible.