17 – Fire !!!

One afternoon in mid September, I was sitting tapping away at my computer as usual, when I heard a noise, which at first I thought was running or splashing water.  I assumed that Paul was watering some of the flowerbeds near to the house.  However as this noise continued for some time I got up to investigate.  I could see no hose and no water but the noise continued. 

Now it sounded more like a constant crackling and I looked up to see the hill ablaze. 

A strong wind was eagerly fanning the flames which were engulfing whole pine trees in its path.  I rushed to alert Paul and at the same time our friend Michele, who had seen the fire from his house situated further up the hill, rang to say he would ring for the Fire Brigade. 

At first I just panicked, not knowing what to do.  Then Michele and Mariantonietta arrived and we went down towards the wood which was about to go up in flames. 

Paul organised a hose pipe and we tried to damp down around the edge of the woods, in an effort to prevent the flames from spreading to the olive grove. 

Michele and Mariantonietta started organising buckets of water and used spades to try and beat out the smouldering creeping edges of the fire. 

Eventually the Fire Brigade turned up, but seemed only concerned in protecting lives and houses, and were not all interested in preserving trees, wildlife or helping to extinguish the inferno !!!

Instead, the firemen called for a fire-fighting helicopter which finally arrived after an interval of  about  half an hour.  In the meantime we had to struggle on as best we could, but the fire was relentless, continuing to consume all in its path.  I felt so sad for all the wildlife that would perish in the flames.   

The helicopter did about a dozen trips, to douse the flames with its suspended bucket of water, scooped up from one of the large lakes in Fondi.  These pilots are amazing, so skilled in their manouevres.  Finally nightfall concluded its forays. 

However here and there the fire was still glowing in pockets and re-energising itself.  We were still hosing down until about 11pm and even in the morning there were areas that were still smouldering and  smoking. 

Ironically the following night there was a tremendous storm and the heavens opened  …

… Sadly a day too late !!!

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