Rome – A volunteer fireman desperate for thrills has been caught setting fires alight in northern Italy as the drought-ravaged country struggled Monday to contain wildfire blazes.

Italy’s fire brigade was tackling flames up and down the country, where a relentless heat wave has turned fields and woods into tinder.With the wind picking up, nine regions launched urgent appeals for water planes.

The president of the Calabria region, Mario Oliverio, called on the government to send in the army as exhausted firefighters and civil protection volunteers raced to stop the flames reaching villages.

The 28-year-old arsonist was filmed on a security camera in the Lombardy region setting hedges and rubbish bins alight before returning to base, sounding the alarm and rushing along with the colleagues to put the fire out.

Police said he had set at least seven fires since 2014.

© AFP Giovanni ISOLINO On Monday 15 firefighters were arrested in Sicily on suspicion of having started fires in order to receive bonus payments

© AFP Giovanni ISOLINO – On Monday 15 firefighters were arrested in Sicily on suspicion of having started fires in order to receive bonus payments