One man arrested, one dead amidst forest fire frenzy

ROME- A 22-year-old man, originally from Busto Arsizio, Varese, was stopped and later arrested by Roman police at Castelfusano, where fires are raging. He was spotted by locals in the area on Monday as he burnt some paper napkins, and when the military noticed, he tried to hide in the vegetation. The young plumber is suspected of attempting to start a forest fire, and has been taken to prison in Regina Coeli. Meanwhile, a man in the Naples area has lost his life due to the blazes afflicting a constellation of areas of central and southern italy, firefighters said.

 The seaside district of Castelfusano in Ostia, near Rome, has had anti-fire helicopters called as pinewoods burn along Via Cristoforo Colombo, a main road which links Rome and the coast. It has had to be closed to traffic.The dark dense clouds of smoke are visible from the city as well as on Ostia beach. Further fire detection can only be carried out when the current flames are extinguished. This is the third fire in the area since the beginning of the month, and in 2000 it was left ruined after a large fire that destroyed parts of the vegetation.

 Rome’s mayor, Virgina Raggi, has visited the site. The Lazio Region has asked the government for emergency status.

 Meanwhile, in Giugliano, in the province of Naples, a 53-year-old man, Giovanni Battista Panico, has died. He fell from the roof of his shed, having been worried about the flames, after they had reached a nearby shed where wooden crates were produced. A skylight had dropped, causing him to fall, and bang his head. By the time the emergency services arrives, he was already dead.

 In Agropoli, Salerno, dozens of people were evacuated from their homes in the  "Colle San Marco" resort, where a Canadair, firefighters and a helicopter are struggling against the blaze. The operations are made harder by the strong wind blowing in the area. Only Sunday afternoon, another large-scale fire had struck the Municipality of Capaccio Paestum, a few miles away from "Collina San Marco", forcing a thousand people to abandon private homes and resort villages.

 In Naples, on the hill of Posillipo, vegetation is also burning. Firefighters and the municipal police are on site. A house is thought to have been damaged by the flames, which are four to five metres long. People are standing on their balconies trying to through water on the fire, in the via Petrarca area.

 The tuscan “Ultima Spiaggia” seaside resort, known along the coast for its VIP visitors, and the “wild coast” campsite in the Lazio region had to be evacuated on Sunday, due to the pine forest that is nearby being affected by the fire.

 Mayor Luigi Bellumori of the Tuscan town of Capalbio told ANSA that the campgrounds were evacuated Sunday as a precaution as winds changed the course of the blaze near the border with the Lazio region. Bellumori also reported that the Tirrenica railway line was blocked. Italy’s national railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato explained that trains was stopped at 12.10 and then resumed at 1:50 p.m. was given the free way to resume circulation on a track, but will most likely be interrupted again.

 Fires also started in Capalbio, in Palude del Chiarone. Three regional helicopters are operating in Piancastagnaio (Siena) on Mount Amiata where a Canadian national civil protection is coming from Olbia, as well as another three in in Marina di Campo, on Elba Island, and one more on Mount Serra, between Pisa and Lucca, all affected by the fires. At the same time, fire fighting volunteers, forest workers and firefighters are operating on the ground. 

 Italy, especially in the South, has been suffering for much of the summer due to these wild fires sweeping the peninsula. According to the farmers union Coldiretti, July rain levels were down 83 percent while temperatures were around 3 degrees Celsius higher than last year. About 2,500 hectares (6,180 acres) of pasture have been destroyed by fires in Sicily alone.