Massive fire ravages Rome again in suspected arson, Italy
Over several boroughs of Rome, the sky was dark again yesterday after an enormous fire broke out in the east of the Italian capital on Saturday, 9 July 2022. The Italian Fire Brigade, Vigili del Fuoco, said that 100 fire fighters were deployed responding with 50 fire apparatus. An ARFF tender from Ciampino Airport assisted in extinguishing the fire.
Four buildings were evacuated as a precaution. According to Italian media, 130 families live there. Other residents were advised to keep doors and windows closed and to wear a mouth mask on the street. The smoke from the junkyards may have been toxic. The fire is believed to have originated in a park and then spread to several junkyards, with a large black cloud of smoke that could be seen across the city.
According to a spokesperson for Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, it is the work of arsonists, claiming it is a deliberate and sustained attempt to start fires to harm the city government and the new mayor.
The mayor was speaking on Italian television on Sunday, the day after several car scrap-yards were devastated in a massive fire in the eastern Centocelle district, spreading clouds of thick black smoke across the city. Stressing that it was "too early to speculate", Gualtieri said an investigation was underway into the fires, adding: "We will see then if they were malicious or negligent episodes, even if it has already been ascertained that some of the fires were as a result of arson".
The mayor promised to strengthen "preventative actions in all areas at risk" as well as upgrading hydrants and investing in more water tankers.
He also said the city would reopen the landfill site at Albano, south-east of Rome, to cope with a worsening rubbish crisis after a fire destroyed a major waste treatment plant at Malagrotta, the vast former dump west of the capital, in June.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Monday, Mayor Gualtieri said he was "absolutely determined to move forward without being intimidated" and will push ahead with plans to build a massive waste-to-energy incinerator capable of handling 600 000 tons of rubbish a year.
The construction of the plant would mean that "Rome will stop squandering resources to send its waste around Italy and Europe", Mayor Gualtieri told the Corriere, "It will finally become clean like it deserves to be."
Asked about the possible role of the "ecomafia" in the recent fires, Gualtieri recalled that the waste supply chain is traditionally among the "most permeable to mafia infiltration", stressing that the battle to make Rome self-sufficient in rubbish disposal was "important in terms of legality as well as cleanliness and the environment".
It was the fourth major fire in Rome in as many weeks.
An investigation will have to show whether it concerns individual perpetrators or organised crime.
Sources: Vigili del Fuoco, The Brussels Times, Wanted in Rome