A MAN has been arrested accused of setting 19 forest fires in Spain’s Caceres over a period of two years.
One of the blazes burned 1,000 hectares and led to 800 people being evacuated as Spain suffered two of its worst years for forest fires in 2021 and 2022.
The 54-year-old man is accused of torching more than 1,100 hectares of forest in the towns of Moraleja, Calzadilla, Santibañez el Alto, Guijo de Galisteo, Torre de Don Miguel, Gata, Villasbuenas de Gata and Torrecilla de los Ángeles.
An investigation was launched in the summer of 2021, when an increase in small forest fires and agricultural fires very close to roads was detected.
Police soon focused their suspicions on the driver of an all-terrain vehicle which had been sighted just before the fires.
At the time the suspect had not been identified, but as more fires started to flare up in the area this year, the investigation was reactivated.
Police again detected the same suspicious vehicle.
These fires caused the declaration of level 2 of emergencies of the INFOEX Plan, and the evacuation of 800 people.
Officers finally managed to identify the vehicle and arrest a resident of Moraleja (Caceres).
Police say that their investigation was hampered by people’s reluctance to help as they were wary of possible reprisals.