Just over a year ago I published a series of blogs about our annual nightmare: fire.
Whilst this summer there had already been several bad fires further down the Amalfi Coast, our area so far had been relatively unaffected. Until last night.
I had just gone to bed when I heard a familiar crackling sound. I looked through the shutters and could see a ring of flames high up on the slopes of Monte San Costanzo.
Although the wind was not particularly strong, it was enough to fuel the flames which soon spread up, down and along the hillside.
We phoned the emergency services, but they said they were busy fighting another fire and had no resources. In fact we found out this morning that it was near the village of Torca towards Crapolla. Perfect timing by whoever organised all of this...two separate fires, in different points and at night.
In any case at that point there was absolutely nothing that could be done. It was dark, it was inaccessible and not threatening any houses.
It was spectacularly awful to watch, moments of virtual calm followed by moments when the flames suddenly leaped high towards the sky or rushed crazily across the mountainside.
In the end I went back to bed, but was soon wide awake again since the crackling noise had intensified, accompanied by an eerie whooshing sound. Back onto the terrace and the fire had spread, still high enough not to worry the village of Nerano down below, but racing right and left, wherever it could find anything to burn.
This morning I woke early. There were still isolated flames here and there, but smoke could be seen rising behind the chapel on top of the mount. The fire had evidently spread to the other side of the mountain and was now attacking the area above Jeranto and towards Punta Campanella. When I left this morning I could see that it had burned a perfect ring around the chapel.
The helicopter apparently arrived towards midday, swooping down to the sea to fill its bucket before attempting to douse the blaze. As I was driving back home mid afternoon, the fire-engine, police and emergency services were racing up the road towards the village of Termini, their sirens blaring. The acrid smell of charred wood fills the air.The fire is still burning.
photo above courtesy of Luigi Esposito (Capri).