Certain sensationalists have been blowing up social media over the past hour with breathtaking reports of a “Vatican City Bombing” and descriptions of a huge explosion and fire at the Vatican itself.
Admittedly, pictures and video coming from Rome depicting billowing black smoke are dramatic:
— Mercurio Viaggiatore (@MercurioPsi) June 1, 2017
Fortunately, I have friends and colleagues in Rome, and I can report to you with confidence that the fire was not at the Vatican. Just moments before I began writing this, one of my Roman contacts walked up to the roof of her building and took this picture in the direction of St. Peter’s Basilica:
Not even a hint of smoke left in the air.
Another contact who works at the Vatican says:
“There was billowing black smoke earlier, but it was thinning already an hour ago when I got on the train.” He is at the Vatican now, and nothing unusual is going on.
Reports are beginning to come in that the fire originated in a junk yard of some sort west several kilometers from the Vatican. The twitter account of the Direzione Centrale Emergenza e Soccorso Tecnico Vigili — a Roman emergency fire and rescue department — posted a video of the incident nearly an hour ago as of this writing:
— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) June 1, 2017
Everyone’s concern is understandable, but this is a false alarm.