THE GUARDIA CIVIL have arrested a man accused of starting at least nine fires in Valencia’s Devesa del Saler natural park.
The arsonist was branded a ‘madman’ by Valencia mayor Maria Jose Catala on Monday and has been revealed to be a 59-year-old lawyer who lives in the area.
The investigation is still open and proceedings have been declared as secret.
Three fires were started last weekend in the park, which authorities believe were ignited by home-made Molotov cocktails.
The Spaniard was detained on Wednesday at his home, located a few metres from where two of the blazes started last Saturday.
He’s also suspected of starting six other fires in the same area dating back to August.
El Saler is an environmentally-protected district that features the Albufera Natural Park covering 21,000 hectares.
The Devesa del Saler has large areas of pine forests and sandy dunes, as well as l’Albufera- the largest freshwater lake in Spain and one of the most important wetlands in the country.
Around 800 hectares of the forest that extends across along the natural park parallel to the lake has been incinerated over the last couple of months.
16 hectares were burnt in last weekend’s blazes- one of which forced the preventative evacuation of 18 people from Casal d’Esplai and the CV-500 between Palmar and Perellonet was closed for a full day.
The arsonist first struck in August with one of the fires starting minutes before the Vuelta a España cycle race went through the area, but the stage continued as planned.