14 Feb, 2024 @ 06:00
1 min read

Arson is behind yet another devastating forest fire in eastern Spain, say investigators – following string of similar attacks last summer

THE Guardia Civil are investigating whether a suspected arsonist has struck once again in the Devesa del Saler area of Valencia’s Albufera natural park.

A small fire was ignited and put out on Sunday, while 30 firefighters worked to bring a second blaze under control that broke out on Monday- threatening five tower blocks which had to be evacuated.

Officials said that both fires were started deliberately.

In October, the Guardia Civil arrested a lawyer, 59, for igniting at least nine fires during the autumn and summer.

He was bailed in December and lives in the Devesa del Saler.

An empty paraffin canister was found in the vicinity of his apartment block following the latest incidents and he has been interviewed by the Guardia.

Around 800 hectares of the forest that extends across along the natural park parallel to the lake were destroyed following last year’s fires.

In the latest incident, five tower blocks to the north of the Albuferea park were evacuated as a precaution on Monday as smoke billowed around them.

Flames were fanned by wind gusts of up to 60 kilometres per hour with the fire regarded as the most ‘life-threatening’ since 1986.

30 people had to leave their homes with three of them treated for smoke inhalation.

The caretaker of one of the towers, Pepe, said: “Palm trees were burning and falling on the fire, making it look like a war zone.”

A flat resident, Angel, said: “We saw the huge fire, grabbed buckets and whatever we could to try to help the firefighters.”

The government delegate to the Valencian Community, Pilar Barnabe confirmed that early indications from the Guardia Civil were that both fires were caused by arson.

Valencia mayor, Maria Jose Catala called on ‘forceful’ measures to be taken because fires ‘are happening too often’.

She called on mobile phone geolocation tracking to be carried out to find the offender or offenders.

Tributes were also paid by Barnabe and Catala to the emergency services.

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