Italian students backyard barbecue ends with whopping $15 million forest fire fine
Normally if a college student says ‘it was lit’ in reference to hanging out and eating barbecue, it would mean he had a good time. In the case of two 22-year-old students in northern Italy, however, it would just as likely refer to a massive fire which burned down forests across half of a mountain last December.
The two were having a cookout at a grandparent's mountain-side home in the Upper Lake Como area when a blaze broke out. One of the men said that he and his mate immediately called the fire department when they saw the fire, and even “threw themselves at the flames” to try to extinguish them. Despite their effort, the fire spread rapidly over 1,000 hectares of land, including a farm where most of the animals were killed.
Having traced the path of destruction back to the barbecue, local officials concluded that the students were responsible. According to local media, authorities tallied up the eye-watering bill in accordance with a standard formula of $133-$670 per square meter. Officials even say they cut the boys a deal with the over $15 million dollar fine, because the actual total was somewhere around $40 million.
The students maintain their innocence and say local officials are using them as a “scapegoat” for a fire that had “many outbreaks,” and at the end of the day “could not be explained.”
"What is the sense to impose an administrative sanction... already knowing that the two boys, still students, cannot pay it?" Ivana Anomali, the lawyer to one of the accused said.
Authorities, however, told local media that the outlandish sum was justified, calling the incident “a signal that we need to push people to greater responsibility in protecting the environment.”
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