Fire in Tuscan Countryside, Thousands of Olive Trees Up in Smoke

A massive wildfire on Mount Serra, in the province of Pisa, devastated a huge area of woodland and ten thousand olive trees.

Sep. 28, 2018
By Ylenia Granitto

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A wild­fire broke out on Mount Serra, in the provinces of Pisa, in Tuscany, in the late evening of Monday, September 24. The flames swept through a wooded area for three days, destroy­ing the veg­e­ta­tion and threat­en­ing at least two hun­dred houses, a few of which were severely dam­aged.

This event will affect the pro­duc­ers of the area for a long time, espe­cially the smaller and less struc­tured farms.- Alessandro Stassano, Confagricoltura Pisa

Fortunately, there have been no reports of death or injuries, while some seniors were taken to Cisanello Hospital in Pisa as a pre­cau­tion. About 700 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from their homes in the ter­ri­to­ries of Calci and Vicopisano, includ­ing the vil­lages of Montemagno, Fontana Diana, San Lorenzo, Noce, Nicosia and Crespignana, and were received in res­cue cen­ters set up by the munic­i­pal­i­ties of the area. Disruptions were reg­is­tered in Cascina and other rural dis­tricts.

More than one hun­dred ground units of the Vigili del Fuoco (the Italian fire depart­ment), worked tire­lessly with groups of vol­un­teers to extin­guish the fire, joined by Canadair fire­fight­ing air­craft and heli­copters, includ­ing an S64 air-crane.


First reports of fire­fight­ers sug­gest that the blaze was likely delib­er­ately set. We have decided to open a file fea­tur­ing the hypoth­e­sis of arson on the basis of some clues that must now be con­firmed by inves­tiga­tive action,” the chief pros­e­cu­tor of Pisa, Alessandro Crini, told Ansa. The fire started spread­ing at night, and its front moved quickly through the scrub, favored by a strong north wind.

The blaze destroyed more than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of land, which included olive trees, vines, chest­nuts and many other plant species, not to men­tion the wildlife. It may take years to restore the bio­di­ver­sity of the ter­ri­tory, and this is com­pounded by the imme­di­ate dam­ages to the econ­omy, work and tourism of the area.

The costs for the emer­gency action to extin­guish the fire on the ground and by air­craft, and for the evac­u­a­tion, must be added to those for the recon­struc­tion of the for­est her­itage,” said Tullio Marcelli, the pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Toscana.

The pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tion esti­mated that about ten thou­sand olive trees, includ­ing sec­u­lar ones, have been destroyed along with other crops, while farms and rural homes have been com­pro­mised, with dam­age to agri­cul­ture of about €6 mil­lion. Following the ini­tial emer­gency, olive trees will be replanted, and it will take at least five years to enter the pro­duc­tion phase.

In the affected areas, all the tra­di­tional human activ­i­ties such as col­lect­ing wood, chest­nuts, small fruits, and mush­rooms will be pro­hib­ited for years to pro­mote the regen­er­a­tion of the envi­ron­ment.

This event will affect the pro­duc­ers of the area for a long time, espe­cially the smaller and less struc­tured farms,” Confagricoltura Pisa’s pres­i­dent, Alessandro Stassano affirmed, point­ing out that grow­ers will suf­fer a loss of sev­eral tons of olive oil.

Francesco Miari Fulcis, the pres­i­dent of Confagricoltura Toscana said, it is still early to draw up a defin­i­tive bud­get as the dam­age will have a long-last­ing impact. However, our asso­ci­a­tion has already taken steps in order to sup­port and help pro­duc­ers in restart­ing their agri­cul­tural activ­i­ties.”

The Tuscany-based news­pa­per La Nazione, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Toscana Region, launched the Adopt a Tree” ini­tia­tive, call­ing upon its read­ers to con­tribute to the recon­struc­tion of the Mount Serra wood­land and its bio­di­ver­sity her­itage. Anyone who wants to help can con­tact the Toscana Region. Donations will be used for the pur­chase of new trees which will be planted in the affected area.

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