VALENCIA’S mayor has branded an arsonist a ‘madman’ after he’s suspected of striking three times in the El Saler district at the weekend.
The Guardia Civil are trying to identify the pyromaniac who is believed to have started six other fires in the same area since August.
Valencia mayor Maria Jose Catala met with the region’s Justice Minister Elisa Nuñez on Monday, and said afterwards: “This is a madman who is not going to achieve his objective.”
“These are not isolated fires that have happened for various reasons, but we are clear that there is a single person behind all of them,” the mayor added.
One theory is that the arsonist knows the area well and has a good knowledge of the most difficult to access zones.
The Guardia Civil and Valencia Policia Local both say that they have stepped up patrols in the area.
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.
Last weekend’s three fires all involved accelerants and some 16 hectares were burnt.
One of the blazes 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.
All the fires started on Saturday and were brought under control on Sunday lunchtime.
The firebug first struck in August and one of the blazes started minutes before the Vuelta a España cycle race went through the area, but the stage continued as planned.
Maria Jose Catala announced on Monday that a network of water cannons operating out of towers in the Devesa del Saler will be installed before March to ‘cool down the entire forested area’.
The towers will be tubular-shaped and green so as to fit in with the environment and it will take four months to install the units at a cost of over €246,000.