With the arrival of the Italian summer the countrys forestry service is stepping up its campaign against forest fires. Although anti-arson measures have been reinforced and the time it takes to put fires out has decreased, the alarm bells keep on ringing. Of the 11,000 fires recorded in 2004 over 60 per cent were arson, with only one per cent occurring naturally. As such, the Italian forestry service reckons around 50,000 hectares of Italys forests go up in smoke every year, and that the 328,000 fires since 1970 have destroyed over four million hectares. According to official figures, Lazio, Calabria and Campania are the worst-affected regions. This year the army will help in the struggle against forest fires, employing Chinook CH47 transport helicopters to carry massive quantities of water to dowse the flames.
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