With Mt. Etna belching plumes of flame and ash, workers relentlessly bulldozed dirt and volcanic rock into 10-foot walls Friday, hoping to prevent lava from swallowing a string of souvenir shops and a cable-car base.
The work became more frantic after the flow from Europe's most active volcano burned a wooden warehouse Friday morning, just hours after it poured over a protective embankment and across an empty parking lot.
Officials said the lava threatened Rifugio Sapienza, which consists of souvenir stands, a restaurant and a ski lift base more than halfway up the volcano.
"We live here with our families and we're worried, of course," said Alfio Carone, one of the owners of La Cantoniera restaurant, which stood 200 feet from the lava Friday afternoon.
Late Friday, two new fractures opened elsewhere on Etna's side, but officials said they weren't threatening any structures.