Canneto di Caronia
A man watches house burnt in Canneto di Caronia, Sicily

A small Sicilian village is witnessing an uncanny surge in spontaneous combustion of electrical appliances, mattresses, beds and cars 10 years after similar episodes attracted geologists, physicists and vulcanologists in search of an explanation.

Supernatural entities like UFOs or poltergeist were blamed at the time for unexplained fires in fridges and mobile phones - even when switched off - in Canneto di Caronia, some 60 miles east of Palermo.

All scientific theories including arson were ruled out by experts who descended on the village. One startled scientist was interviewed after he detailed how he saw an electrical cable bursting into flames despite being unplugged.

The outbreaks continued even after Enel, Italian power utility, cut off the town's power supply. In a few months the phenomena stopped without any apparent reason.

A leaked interim report published by an Italian newspaper in 2007 signed by the Civil Protection Department concluded that the cause was "aliens" as the fire were "caused by a high power electromagnetic emissions which were not man-made and reached a power of between 12 and 15 gigawatts". The case, however, was dismissed after one year a following a further investigation which inferred that the fires were indeed arson cases caused by humans.

This time the mayor of Canneto ordered some of the 38 residents to leave their homes after 18 episodes of spontaneous combustions were recorded in 48 hours. A television set was said to have caught fire five times. Calogero Beringhelli told The Times that he believes the fires were being started by "unknown electromagnetic radiation" of unknown origin.

Sicily's council member for health and safety Vittorio Alfieri said in an interview that the fires were caused by "an entity" that transfers "from one house to another".

"A house on the ground floor caught fire then it was the turn of objects on the first floor. Consequently, the fire moved to the nearby house. It was like it was moving," Alfieri explained.