A FOREST fire which destroyed 250 hectares of land and at least one property while forcing hundreds to evacuate was ‘most likely deliberate’, it has been claimed.
According to a source from the Spanish Military Emergency Unit (UME), the weekend blaze in Mijas was ‘almost certainly lit for private interests’.
He told the Olive Press: “Perhaps it was to pave the way for a new urbanisation or some luxury villas, or even to extend the contracts of various fire crews.
“I don’t believe it was the work of a pyromaniac but I do think it was deliberate, it was not an accident.”
He added: “There were similar reasons to the big Sierra Bermeja fire two years ago, only the weather was cooler so it didn’t spread as fast, thank god.”
However, despite the UME not being called this time – ‘it wasn’t deemed big enough’ – he added: “What is terrifying is a forest fire destroying so much land so late in the season in November.
“It just shows the danger of global warming is looming ever closer.”
Residents described the horror of being awoken by flames in the early hours of Sunday, when the fire broke out in the Venta los Condes area.
Within a few hours over 300 people were moved from the Valtocado urbanisation to a sports centre away from the inferno.
Firefighters were roped in from Marbella, Benalmadena and Fuengirola, alongside multiple helicopters and aircraft, while it took more than 24 hours for the flames to be brought under control.
Local councillor Antonio Sanz Cabello said: “It has not been easy, but thanks to hard work the fire has been stabilised and residents can return to their homes.”
He added that it could have been a lot worse and that an investigation into the cause of the fire was still underway.
Olive Press reader Melanie Jane Whittaker sent us photos from Sunday morning showing the fire clearly appeared to have three seats, while video footage shows helicopters and aircraft flying directly over her roof.
She told this paper: “I woke up to the smell of smoke, I initially thought the house was on fire and our balcony was covered in ash.
“We were told by police we couldn’t leave, we felt trapped and especially with our animals we had a very scary few hours!”
In September 2021, authorities believe a fire in the Sierra Bermeja was started deliberately by arsonists. It burnt through 9,670 hectares in the hills above Estepona and saw more than 3,000 people evacuated from their homes.
It tragically caused the death of one firefighter, 44-year-old Carlos Martinez Haro, a father of two young daughters who was brought in from Almeria to join the 1,000 strong team battling the flames.
In 2018, a forest fire in Manilva was feared to have been started deliberately by drug traffickers in a bid to divert resources away from the coastline – allowing them greater freedom to import large shipments of narcotics.
And in 2020, locals rumours following a devastating fire in Granada pointed the finger at wind farm companies, claiming they wanted to calcify the land to make way for a renewable energy hotspot. The claims were never proven.