Abruzzo is assessing the damage after yesterday’s fires. There were around 20 blazes yesterday, mostly on the coast, in Fossacesia, Pescara, Vasto, Ortona, Rocca San Giovanni, as well as in Penne, Cugnoli, Bussi, Pian d’Orta, Guilmi, Farindola.

Fire in Pescara yesterday. Photo by Comune di Pescara

The beautiful pine forest in the Pineta Dannunziana natural reserve in Pescara has been ravaged by fire, olive groves, vineyards, houses burnt down, motorways closed, dozens of people evacuated and some admitted to hospitals. The regional authorities are starting investigations into the fire in Pescara and many others as, it seems, they were started deliberately.

Who is to blame?

As the fires have been put down, local authorities are blamed for not doing the mandatory maintenance in the natural reserve. The regional government is heavily criticised for cutting down this year’s funds for fire brigades allocated for fighting forest blazes by €180,000 (a quarter from the previous year). The cut happened despite serious fires becoming a more frequent occurrence.

The regional press quoted Elio D’Annibale, the secretary of the fire fighters trade union in Abruzzo denouncing the regional government for this grave error of incompetence. “To remedy the damage resulting from senseless political choices we are forced to employ ordinary service teams that should deal with other emergencies and bring reinforcements from Tuscany. The teams arriving from outside the region lead to elevated expenses and extended intervention times.”

Fire in Pescara yesterday. Photo by Comune di Pescara

Abruzzo’s resources for fighting forest fires are limited. It is one of the seven Italian regions that do not have their own aircraft to intervene in the event of a fire. In Italy as a whole, there are only 19 Canadair planes (the amphibious aircrafts used in detecting and suppressing forest fires. There are three bases in the country in Genoa, Roma and Lamezia Terme) to be used throughout the national territory. Only yesterday, the national media report, there were 49 urgent requests for Canadair planes throughout central and southern Italy.  

Burnt down pine forest in Ortona today. Photo by Comune di Ortona

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