Italy: Fires in Summer 2000 (IFFN No. 23 – December 2000)

Fires in Summer 2000

(IFFN No. 23 – December 2000, p. 84-87)

According to the Statistic Bureau of Corpo Forestale dello Stato, over 10 000 wildland fires have burned more than 95 000 hectares across Italy (45 000 of which forested) as of 3 September 2000. Officials are calling it the worst wildfire season in recent history, probably much worse than 1993.

A long, severe drought, with below normal rainfall and air temperature increased in the upper 40’s °C in many parts of Southern Italy for days in July and August, with records of 48°C in July, together with winds that made fighting very difficult, have been the biggest influencing factor of this disastrous phenomenon, whose increasing trend is evidenced by Tables 1 and 3. In many days, fire departments were called on more than 170 fires a day.

The problem as been common for other people living in South Europe, suffering under an extreme heat wave. The southernmost Regions (Puglia, Calabria, Campania) together with the islands of Sardinia and Sicily keep the negative record of fires also this year, confirming that fires are usually more numerous in Regions with low forestry ratio, such as Puglia (7.7) and Sicily (10.1) (Tab.2). Most of the fires are believed to be intentionally caused.

In many cases, heavy fires have threatened houses, residential areas and small towns, where residents have been cautioned to leave their homes or evacuated. In addition, wildfires have severely swept many protected areas (namely nature reserves and national parks such as Pollino, Gargano, Abruzzi) and areas of celebrated beauty, such as island of Capri, the pine stand of Ostia, near Rome, the coast near Amalfi.


Tab.1. Number of fires, surfaces (total and decade averages) in Italy, 1970-2000.
Source: Corpo Forestale dello Stato.

Tab.2. Forest fires in Italy in 2000 (1 January – 3 September 2000).
Source: Corpo Forestale dello Stato.

Tab.3. Forest fires in Italy from 1970 to 1999: Number, surfaces per year and decades.
Source: Corpo Forestale dello Stato.

Contact address:

Vittorio Leone
Faculty of Agriculture
Department of Vegetal Crops
Section Sylviculture
University of Basilicate
85100 Potenza



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