The Daily Telegraph

Film crew that started fire banned from Italian island

- By Nick Squires in Rome

A FILM crew making a television programme about an elite Italian corps responsibl­e for combating natural disasters like wildfires, has been banned from a remote Mediterran­ean island after causing a blaze of its own.

The volcanic island of Stromboli was being used as the setting for a drama about Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, which tackles natural disasters such as earthquake­s, floods and forest fires, when the producers ironically caused a wildfire of their own.

The fire, the cause of which is being investigat­ed, was whipped up by a strong “sirocco” wind and burnt about five hectares (12 acres) of brush and forest on the slopes of the active volcano which makes up the island. It happened in May but was then followed by rain storms in August which led to mudslides that further damaged the denuded hillsides.

At a meeting at the weekend, around 150 islanders gathered in a church and decided overwhelmi­ngly not to let the television drama, called Protezione Civile, return to Stromboli.

The producers “had never assumed any responsibi­lity for the fire or agreed to undertake any remedial action”, said Riccardo Gullo, the mayor.

“They left the island as though nothing had happened.” The drama was being made by a production company, 11 Marzo, for RAI, Italy’s public broadcaste­r.

Islanders want to know how the fire started in the first place and why more was not done to prevent the subsequent mudslide. The investigat­ion into the fire is likely to lead to a trial, with the island’s council asking to be included as a civil party.

“Everyone knew that the fire would be followed by mudslides as soon as the

‘The producers left without taking responsibi­lity for the fire and did not agree to undertake remedial action’

first storm came,” a local businessma­n, Massimilia­no Cincotta, told La Repubblica newspaper.

The island, which is part of the Aeolian archipelag­o north of Sicily, is famous as the setting for Stromboli, a 1950 film starring Ingrid Bergman, directed by Roberto Rossellini.

As a live volcano, it erupts on a regular basis, spewing out chunks of lava, ash and volcanic rock from its cone. At night the explosions can be seen far out at sea, lending the island the nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterran­ean”.

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