Two students ordered to pay $15 million each for starting wildfire in Italy

wildfire lake Como Italy
Firefighters suppress a wildfire at Lake Como on Monte Berlinghera. Varese News

Two 22-year old students accused of accidentally starting a wildfire have each been fined €13,500,000 ($15,200,000). The fire burned about 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) near Lake Como in Italy, ignited, investigators determined, by embers from the barbecue at a home owned by the grandfather of one of the two men.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about a week on Monte Berlinghera after it started on December 30, 2018 during dry conditions when a nearby weather station recorded wind gusts up to 62 mph.

In addition to the fine the men could face civil suits from property owners  affected by the fire.

Below is an excerpt from an article at BBC:

La Stampa reports that the regulation calls for a fine of €118–€593 per square metre. The damage the two men were liable for was calculated at some 6,840 square metres, the newspaper said – resulting in a fine of between €8m and €40m.

A lawyer for one of the students told the newspaper that any sentence should be meaningful and have a point.

“What is the sense to impose an administrative sanction… already knowing that the two boys, still students, cannot pay it?” she said.

However, the prosecutor told local news outlet Il Giorno Como that the fine was “a signal that we need to push people to greater responsibility in protecting the environment”.

wildfire lake Como Italy

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.