Juanma Moreno, the president of the Junta de Andalucía, has delivered a strong message about the fire sweeping across the Sierra Bermeja and warned "if the fire was started deliberately, we will hunt down the killers."
The fire, which started on Wednesday night and has spread across the municipalities of Jubrique, Genalguacil, Estepona and Benhavís, remains uncontrolled, having already claimed the life of a 44-year-old Infoca firefighter from Almería.
The head of the regional government is heading to the affected area this Friday afternoon (10 September) to see for himself "how bad the situation is".
Moreno has referred to "clear indications" that the fire was started deliberately, saying: "The fire had two sources. In addition, it started at night preventing fire-fighting from the air and in a steep area that is difficult to access from the ground."
"And, curiously, the next day it was known there would be gusts of wind above 45 kilometres an hour,” he said.
The Junta’s head said that there are too many "coincidences" to not believe that the fire was not started deliberately.
However, he pointed out that the investigation into the cause of the fire has yet to be carried out, for which he asked all police forces to make "all resources" available to the Junta.
The Andalusian president has also appealed for the public’s help to provide information on "any suspicious activity" that they may have seen from "people entering wooded areas", or who demonstrate "a strange attitude”.
Moreno said, “So far the fire has spread over 3,600 hectares, although we do not know if they are all burned", because it affects an area of "pine forests”, where sometimes "a kind of bald patch is generated and there may be hectares that have not been burned and have been saved."
The president reminded that Level 2 of Infoca's Forest Fire Emergency Plan has been activated which means that "even more resources" will be mobilised to bring it under control. This Friday, some 38 aircraft were involved in the efforts, working alongside more than 500 people on the ground.