THE Guardia Civil have arrested this Tuesday, June 14, three men for their alleged connection with the Sierra Bermeja forest fire.
Initial investigations by the Junta’s Forest Fire Investigation Brigade (BIIF) and the Guardia Civil’s Seprona nature protection service indicated that the blaze could have started as a result of serious negligence during work with heavy machinery on a nearby 6,500-hectare private estate known as La Resinera.
The arrests were announced yesterday afternoon by the Deputy Prosecutor for the Environment, Fernando Benitez Perez-Fajardo, after confirming the initial hypothesis, that the blaze had started accidentally during maintenance tasks at the La Resinera.
“The fire started during work with heavy machinery carried out on the La Resinera estate in circumstances that were inappropriate for the existing conditions,” Perez-Fajardo informed in an official statement.
In view of the weather conditions in the area on the day the fire started (June 8), with gusts of wind exceeding 40 kilometres per hour and temperatures of up to 37ºC, it will be down to a judicial inquiry to confirm if there was negligence during the maintenance tasks.
According to sources, work was being carried out on the estate with a machine that, by moving the rocks, could have caused a spark to fly and consequently start the fire.
The Pujerra forest fire, which was declared on Wednesday, June 8, has already destroyed more than 3,500 hectares of the Sierra Bermeja and the extinction work is still ongoing even though it was declared as ‘stabilised’ last Friday, June 10.
During the height of the extinguishing work, three members of the Junta’s Plan Infoca specialist forest fire brigade were injured, two of them were discharged after a few hours, while the third suffered burns that affected 20% of his body and some 2000 residents from the urban area of Benahavis and some residential developments in Estepona were evacuated.