Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fire in Positano

I wake to an unearthly yellow light and the throb of a chopper overhead. Sunlight is lost to a haze in the air, and an acrid smell of smoke clings to the washing hung out overnight. Ashes scatter as I throw open the terrace doors and a Canadair plane swoops low over our house to the water where it scoops from the sea with it’s gigantic belly. A second one thunders past at an angle, fast on the tail of the first one. It is so close that I can see the pilot. The sound similar to air raids in a war-torn country is deafening and continues all day, unremittingly  until dusk.

Today is the third day of a devastating mountain fire over the mountains of Positano. A fire which has destroyed the best part of the mountain’s pine forest and a loved walk of the Positanesi.

The fire started two nights ago in the hills above Chiesa Nuova, just before dusk, as always. The first flames were visible from our home.


Helicopters were on the scene straight away dipping at Fornillo but had to stop in the dark. 121

Volunteers worked all night against the fire which fanned in the timber dry area until it had spread in an ever widening circle to include Montepertuso and the Monte Faito mountain in the Gulf of Sorrento.

When we set out in the morning in our boat the mountains looked like this, with pockets of fire scattered wide.


On our return in the afternoon, I was there in time to witness the helicopter’s release of a  bucket of water over the forest beneath the mountain hole at Montepertuso. The scene was nightmarish. Blackened mountain as far as I could see.

If only tears could drench the flames.