So half of Sicily is on fire right now.

posted in: Italian living, The Homefront | 1

(Not volcano related).

At least, that’s what it feels like — everytime we drive somewhere for the last few weeks we see actual fires or at least the tell-tale smoke. On the way back from Celafu we saw a big one near Taormina, and we’ve seen plenty of roadside ones as well. In the last few days though it feels as if it is intensifying.

Yesterday in particular the kids and I were driving to base and we saw huge plumes of smoke from various fires in every direction. When we were getting on the highway, we saw a decent-size fire right next to the onramp (up to the metal guardrail) and Civil Protection guys were there keeping an eye on it. I wish I’d gotten a picture but I was getting on the highway.

Chris took this one a couple weeks ago.

I wrote this part of my blog entry this morning, but now it is midafternoon and we are back home after a trip to the pool. The way back required a detour because when I got off at my usual exit, the cops were immediately turning people around and sending them the only way available — back onto the highway. There was a massive amount of smoke down the way I’d usually drive, though I couldn’t see the actual fire.

Snapped this one today from further away.

I also just learned that they had to evacuate 700 tourists by boat from a resort near San Vito Lo Capo, a beautiful beach town on the northwest coast of Sicily. On the mainland, Mount Vesuvius is also ablaze.

According to this article, firefighters in Sicily and Southern Italy have intervened with more than 10,000 instances of vegetation fire since June 15. The big problem is that it has been exceptionally dry this spring and summer — the article says we’re about a month behind our expected rainfull — and it has been much hotter than usual. All the Sicilians we’ve talked to say that while it is usually as hot as this in August, it isn’t normal at all for it to have been 100+ so much in June and early July. My takeaway from this is basically that when there is a tiny spark, the vegetation is going up like a dry Christmas tree right now. Chris and I have been speculating that perhaps the reason we’ve seen so many fires on the side of the road specifically is that people flick cigarrettes out the window, but that’s just our theory.

Family members — don’t worry, we feel plenty safe. But seeing all these is definitely a little disconcerting.

One from a few weeks ago when we drove through a lot of smoke from a fire next to the road. 

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