Police arrested the man after they suspected he had created a fire using a tank of fuel in order to smoke out an insect nest.
The Frenchman was detained on Monday at a property he rented in the Peñas Blancas area near to where the fire started and which he is thought to have shared with his daughter.
He allegedly planned to return to France the day after the blaze, which has torched 300 hectares of Estepona countryside.
The man was arrested on charges of crimes against the environment and is expected to appear in court today.
It comes as residents of the Forest Hills urbanization – where some 2,000 people were evacuated – have claimed that the fire was part of a neighbourly dispute.
Residents told the Olive Press late last night that the suspect had in fact torched a neighbour’s beehive in a revenge attack and that it was not a hornet’s nest.
“There’s a rumour that he was fighting with his neighbour and torched his beehive,” Nicholas Dannenbery, 18, from Malaga said.
He added: “I think he’s a complete idiot, how many houses has he damaged, it’s disgusting.
“The fire spread really quickly, it was just a small patch at first.
“We had to evacuate, the police officer came over and told us to leave.”
Meanwhile the emergency level 1 has this morning been deactivated and the fire has been stabilised, although 142 firefighters are still working on the area.
Overnight some teams had to withdraw from the area due to changing wind conditions, but the fire is now contained within two zones.