A SMALL bonfire close to the Montitxelvo sports centre could have sparked a forest fire that destroyed 2,500 hectares of land in the Vall d’Albaida and Safor regions of Valencia province.
The blaze started on the afternoon of November 2 and around 200 firefighters were involved in bringing it under control with around 850 residents evacuated as a precaution.
The Guardia Civil have been speaking to people with homes near the sports centre to find out if they saw anything suspicious that day.
One theory is that the bonfire may have been lit by a farmer or seasonal workers employed in one of the fields on the outskirts of Montitxelvo.
Several logs and branches were used to perhaps heat up some food at around 2.00pm as strong gusts of wind hit the area.
Officers also found a shoe with a burned sole along with a jacket and other clothing near the source of the fire.
The president of the Valencia Provincial Council, Vicent Mompo, has pledged to help assess and repair the damage caused to crops and land.
He met on Friday with the mayors of the ten municipalities affected by the fire and told them a special aid fund will be set up.
“We will individually study the situation of each municipality and try to reduce bureaucracy in the process to ensure that money arrives as soon as possible, since the majority of people live off farming and natural resources,” said Mompo.
The communities most affected by the fire have been Llocnou de Sant Jeroni, with 98% of the forest area destroyed, followed by Terrateig and Castellonet de la Conquesta on 90%.