Thousands of date palms have been burnt in UNESCO World Heritage orchards in Elche on the Costa Blanca.

Thousands of palms were scorched in four separate orchards during the early hours of Saturday morning, according to Alicante’s Provincial Consortium of Firefighters.

The first fire was reported around 0.50am, in a palm orchard in La Hoya.

Later, around 2.25am, there was a second fire in palm orchard near Algorós.

Minutes later, another garden had started to burn, this time next to the CV-856 at the height of km 1.

Finally, at 6 o’clock in the morning, a fourth fire was reported next to the CV-851 at the height of km 2.

A total of 25 firefighters from the Provincial Consortium arrived from Elche, Crevillent, San Vicente and Almorabí to put out the blaze, alongside a six-strong unit of forest firefighters.

The Palmeral of Elche numbers close to 200,000 date palm trees, covering 3.5 sq km.

It is the only palm grove in Europe, and palmeros still honour agricultural traditions passed down from the Moorish civilisation.

Initial signs reportedly indicate the fires were intentional.

The Local Police of Elche, together with the Fire Department and the National Police have announced that an investigation has been opened to clarify the causes.

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