A COUPLE have been arrested for allegedly starting the forest fire which gutted the Laguna Village complex in Estepona.

The Spanish man and woman, aged 43 and 51 respectively, are being charged with arson due to gross negligence, property damage and electricity fraud.

Policia Nacional revealed on Monday that the pair are believed to have caused the fire when an electrical appliance in their shack-like home malfunctioned.

The couple, who lived in a field in the Rio Padron area, were illegally hooking their home up to the electricity supply.

They used the stolen electricity to power a frying pan and fan, among other devices.

Investigators believe one of these items broke and caused a spark or fire, which quickly spread due to the strong winds.

Police initially thought the fire was intentional, but the evidence now suggests it was accidental.

The flame affected almost 50 hectares and completely destroyed the Laguna Village complex, including restaurants, shops and a luxury pool club.

A Level 1 emergency was declared by the Junta de Andalucia as the flames took over both sides of the A-7 motorway and encroached upon a BP petrol station.

Meanwhile, dozens of homes and the luxury Kempinski hotel also had to be evacuated.

Luckily no one was killed or injured, although one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

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