Fires in Italy

Italy is burning

Arsons and climate change, both are contributing to the recent fires in Italy. From the two islands to Puglia, travelers have been evacuated and locals lost their homes. Animals have lost their lives, while people have lost their livelihood. The consequences are devastating for businesses, locals, and the environment. It’s the loss of a unique and Mediterranean heritage. Indeed, southern Italy is burning and new fires alight every day.

The situation in Sardinia

The island started burning at the end of July, leaving destruction in its wake. In fact, the estimates amount the damages to euro 1 billion. Meanwhile, the local organization of businesses counted over 1.300 companies affected and damaged. High winds and higher temperatures gave scary life to the flames. They devoured shops and hectares of forests, a natural heritage that was over 70 years old. In the region’s estimate, the hectares are 20,000. For three days, over 7.500 people worked agains the fires with the help of 22 planes.

The volunteers helped subdue the flames, but there are some places burning in Sardinia, especially near Oristano. Still, there is an orange alert on the entire island, with possibilities of more fires burning nature and the economy.

Fires in Italy: Sicily

The situation is still serious and critical on this Mediterranean island. Since June 15th, there have been over 8.669 events that needed the local firefighters to intervene. More are expected in the next weeks, with temperatures rising and rising.

“Our forests are part of our culture,” said local chief Fabrizio Curcio, “we can’t just remember about them in summer, but the entire year. Often, these are man-made fires, both voluntary and not. So, criminals need to be investigated. And the involuntary ones, they can cause dramatic situations.”

Often, Sicilians and visitors found refuge at the beach, waiting for the Coast Guard to pick them up. The situation is so dire, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi authorized the intervention of the national guard to fight the flames. Volunteers from all over the country will fly down to Sicily, in the hopes of saving its forests and fauna.

96% of fires are arsons

The two islands aren’t the only regions fighting fires in Italy. In Lazio, there have been 1500 fires in one month, 40 in one day in the province of Rome. Flames have destroyed vineyards and fields. In Puglia, the forest Difesa Grande outside of Bari has been burning for four days. Same in the region Abruzzo, where the wind fueled the flames that had been tamed. In Emilia Romagna, trains had to stop on their tracks due to the smoke. Some passengers even spent the entire night on the train, stuck inside.

But is all climate change’s fault?

The WWF has a different opinion. In fact, the organization’s research shows that 96% of fires are man-made. Often, arson. Sometimes, involuntary and due to distraction. Only 4% of fires are from natural causes. The European-Mediterranean enter for climate change focused on Italy’s risk of more fires, since the temperatures are expected to rise while rains will become more scarce. The risk of fires in Italy will raise by 20% in the next decade, since the hot season will become longer.  Sometimes, the risk will increase by 43%.

However, these are the consequences of climate change. But arsons are a different story, like the story of the forest in Murgia, in Puglia. There, investigators are trying to identify the ones responsible for five days of flames and countless hectares lost.

In Alghero, Sardinia, the police identified a serial arsonist, who is responsible for (at least) eight attempted fires. Now, he might spend from four to 10 years in prison. Since men are responsible for 96% of fires, there one less arsonist to count.

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