Apparently there's a town in Italy called Canneto Di Caronia that has been plagued by a series of mysterious fires where objects, everything from cars to microwave ovens, have been spontaneous combusting. It has gotten so bad that there's been a total exodus of the town. The only people in it now are scientists of many disciplines, priests, and self-proclaimed ghostbusters.
Canneto Di Caronia is a small town located in Sicily in between a railway line and the ocean.
Many hypotheses are flying around for this phenomena. Pranksters, bad wiring, ghosts, demons and the Devil have been blamed for these strange flame-ups. Pranksters have been eliminated as the cause, as visiting scientists have witnessed the fires starting with nobody around but themselves. Bad wiring has been eliminated because unplugged appliances such as lamps have burst into flames. One such lamped destroyed itself and then the apartment it was in.
Even demons or poltergueists have been all but ruled out. Apparently, in Italy, there is actually a " Committee for the Control of Paranormal Claims." Heading it is a man named Massimo Polidoro. He believes that "the fact that the phenomenon occurs only when there are people present makes it hard to believe that it is a natural, or even supernatural phenomenon." Perhaps he means that nobody has seen any mischievous spectres causing the fires. He does go on to add that the supernatural possibilities will be revisited if no other explanations are found.
Gabriele Amorth, one of the Catholic Church's top exorists, still holds onto the belief that it could be the Devil at work. One very intriguing, yet still implausible, cause could be a woman named Carole Compton who, in the 1980's, went on trial in Italy for being a witch. She allegedly used her supernatural powers to start fires in homes while working as a nanny.
More sensible, and yet-unproven, hypotheses are emerging. Using various instruments to monitor geomagnetic, meteorological, electromagnetic and electrostatic possibilities, researchers are trying to prove or disprove a new range of postulations, ranging from built up electrical energy caused by the railway to surges of electricity from the Earth's core. The latter sounds far-fetched but is a considered a rare but natural occurrence.
One way that was thought to cull these mysterious fires was to cut off electricity to the entire town. Italy's big utility company Enel did that and hooked the town up to a generator. Guess what -- the generator caught fire as well.
Pedro Spinnato, Canneto's mayor, is as desperate for a solution as his constituents. Indeed, he, along with the 39 residents of the town, have been relegated to living in hotels outside the city. His far-flung idea for a solution could be sacrificing a "black goat and collect its blood." If no other solutions come about, he says that could look like a pretty good idea.
Strange fires are now not the only unusual occurrences in Canneto. Apparently cellular phones have been acting up and lock and alarm systems in cars are going haywire. These are just as curious and obviously seem to be connected in some way.
As of writing this node, no definitive cause or solutions to the problem have been found. I'll update as more information becomes available.
Update 3/24/07: Another theory that has been proposed is that somebody was intentionally creating an electromagnetic phenomenon to con the villages with with a Tesla-type Magnifying Transmitter, but if that was the case villagers should have heard the thunderous noise produced by it and no con was ever attempted. Apparently the fires stopped but resumed in April of 2004 but abated again. The cause still remains unknown but electrical improvements have been made to the city's power systems.
Sources: cnn.com, highbeam.com