Prosecutors say the two 22-year-olds, who dispute the case, lit a barbecue with a group of friends near Lake Como in the north of Italy on December 30th to celebrate New Year.
The wildfire was started by the embers of the barbecue, eventually ravaging 1,000 hectares of forest, according to the findings of an investigation. Several buildings were destroyed, including one in which all the domestic animals died, according to the daily La Repubblica.
The fire destroyed hundreds of hectares of the forests that surround Lake Como. Photo: Rachael Martin/The Local
The huge fine for the two students was calculated in accordance with a decade-old formula which determines the financial penalty depending on the scale of the damage.
It was unclear how the two students were expected to afford the fine. Their lawyers have three weeks to challenge the amount in an administrative court.