Si Spegne l’Estate

The summer turns off. It sure did with a colossal storm yesterday that dropped 2 inches of rain on us and knocked out the electricity for 8 hours. We now have 14 days of storms and showers so the decision to head to Greece is looking better and better.

However before it turned itself off we had the final 30+ degree day on Saturday and that brought fun as well.

Obviously after 26 days without rain the ground was parched as was the undergrowth. There is a law here that prevents you lighting open fires from June16th until the beginning of September. However like all such laws in Italy it clearly applies to others but not the guy who wants to just burn off some freshly cut straw or a little rubbish that he has. The law doesn’t apply to him but to everyone else. This is especially true of the good gentlemen that come to empty the large dumpers where we deposit our household rubbish.

It always amazes us Brits down here in Puglia when we read our internet Daily Mail and see that councils are now saying that households will need up to 8 different boxes in which to place their household waste because of new draconian EU rules being imposed on councils by Brussels. We still throw everything in the dumpster at the top of the road and every other day it is emptied by the local comune for the princely sum of €120 a year council tax.

However the guys that do the emptying are a rule unto themselves. They incidentally still cling to the back of the dustbin truck as the Louis Hamilton impersonating driver hurtles the thing through the narrow country lanes with his hand on the hooter . Again something I am sure the EU have stopped in the UK where everyone must be snug in the cab before the health and safety conscious driver even pulls away.

They always come on a Saturday to empty the dumpster ( bidone) at the top of our driveway and they did so this week. However they were doing their bit, as they saw it, to tidy up the countryside or more to the point the area around the bidone which as you can imagine gets a little covered in rubbish as people drive slowly past the bidone and throw their stuff into it from the car window. They normally miss and no one is going to stop and put it in properly.

How do you clean up the rubbish around the bidone. Well if you are a dustbin man you reach into your pocket take out your lighter and light one of the offending articles . Then you quickly hop on the back of the truck before the driver has roared off with tyres smoking and wheels screaming.

What normally then happens is the rubbish and the undergrowth burn for about 200 yards in each direction on the same side of the road until the fire hits a wall, a driveway or simply fizzles out. However on Saturday just after the man had lit the rubbish the wind got up and started to blow strongly. The fire spread quite quickly and we could see it moving quite fast.

Fire is a worrying thing down here especially in the countryside. The fire fighters are all in the towns and some are volunteers. No one seems to really believe that they will come out to attend these small blazes and in the main your neighbours have no interest in worrying about your house if they are watching from the other side of the street as the fire rarely jumps right across a road . So you are on your own.

This fire did quickly jump a small driveway which it has never done before when a bidone is set on fire. Quite quickly the fire was going crazy and everywhere at the top of our road was alight.

Fire all Around

There followed a large explosion and tons of black smoke and flames leapt into the air. Some petrol stored years ago in an abandoned old trulli had blown up. The reaction of the guy across the road was to run down and close his gates and then retire back to bed.

For the first time ever the fire then started to move down the hill towards our house and the acres of woodland behind us. In our garden is a freshly filled 1000 litre tank of LPG gas and of course our house.  Up the hedgerow it came a yard at a time

Comming up towards us

If it it got to the woods it would envelope the house. We filled buckets and decided to make our stand. Many water buckets later we had doused the hedgerow and the wind as fast as it had sprung up had died. The bar beckoned for a couple of amateur firefighters.

The deluge on Sunday was welcome in  that it doused the remaining smouldering piles of wood nearby.


The bidone after the rain looked a little worse for wear and the area around the explosion was pretty charred too.

olive oil blows up

All we kept thinking was say we weren’t here when the fire was started by the wretched man. What then ?


About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
This entry was posted in Driving in Italy, Expat in Italy, Expat Italy, Italian Living, Puglia, Puglia Food, Puglia Guide, Puglia Lifestyle, Puglia Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Si Spegne l’Estate

  1. Mike, that is a brilliant story, but must have been terrifying! I have just spent a week in Andalucia in 40 degrees where all the smokers in our party carried round revolting water filled ashtrays in order to extinguish every little stub. Same in Provence where we saw a forest fire raging up our valley as we packed to leave the farmhouse which was called Rue Perdue ! Braving the pitch blackness, full headlights on in the smoke pall, we escaped with our lives. Enjoy Greece. We are off there on Sept 23rd too.

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