Six forest firefighters who were based in Igualeja have been sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of ten euros a day for six months for the huge fire which broke out in the Serranía de Ronda in February 2012 and burned 800 hectares of land.
The court found them guilty of serious negligence in carrying out their duties, but has also ordered the Junta de Andalucía to pay over 600,000 euros in compensation because the firefighters worked for the Infoca fire service. The blaze caused more than three million euros worth of damage.
The firefighters were creating a firebreak on a forest track which leads from Pujerra to the Puerto de la Alanadillas pass on the A-397 and were burning vegetation which had been removed. However, the two fires did not have the required 50-centimetre safety perimeter, were not extinguished with water and the men left before confirming that they had been completely put out, the court heard.
There was a strong wind that day and this reactivated the fires, which then spread uphill through the chestnut woods. The flames crossed a dirt track and caused a second fire on the other side. The blaze was discovered during the night but could not be extinguished until the evening of the following day, by which time it had caused a great deal of damage to areas in Pujerra and Júzcar.
The court decided there was evidence to show that the accused were aware that they were not complying with strict safety measures, although they denied that this was the case.
Although the case had taken ten years to come to court, the level of negligence was considered serious enough for all the defendents to serve a jail sentence and pay a fine.