It took 20 days to extinguish the fire. / josele

Four questioned in court over what sparked the massive Sierra Bermeja wildfire earlier this year

The blaze took 20 days to extinguish and flames affected 4,800 hectares of land in Benahavís, Estepona, Faraján, Igualeja, Jubrique, Júzcar and Pujerra. About 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes at its peak

Ivan Gelibter
IVAN GELIBTER MALAGA.

The fire which broke out in the Sierra Bermeja back in June burned for nearly 20 days and devastated approximately 5,000 hectares of countryside in Malaga province. The court in Ronda which is investigating the cause of the blaze has interviewed four people this week to try to ascertain whether any crime was involved.

The four in question are the person who manages the estate where the fire began, a forestry engineer, a rural warden and the driver of an excavating machine.

Although the first investigators have ruled out arson, they have found signs that the fire could have been caused by negligence during maintenance at the estate, a 6,500-hectare property in Pujerra called La Resinera which is owned by the Libyan Foreign Bank (Forebank).

They are taking into account the meteorological conditions in Malaga province on 8 June, the day the fire began, as there were winds of over 40 kph and the temperature reached 37C.

Reckless behaviour?

The Environmental Prosecutor, Fernando Benítez, considers that it was reckless behaviour to have continued the works in the grounds under those conditions and that the blaze could have been started through the use of heavy machinery.

The forest fire began about 3pm on 8 June. It was stabilised two days later and deemed under control on 15th, but was not extinguished until Sunday 26th. The flames affected 4,800 hectares of land in Benahavís, Estepona, Faraján, Igualeja, Jubrique, Júzcar and Pujerra and about 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Benahavís, Velerín Alto, Montemayor, Marbella Club and Benahavís Hills as a precautionary measure.