Three estate workers arrested in connection with the Sierra Bermeja forest fire

Guardia Civil officers have already questioned the workers from the La Resinera estate for their possible involvement in the blaze, which is believed to have started accidentally

JUAN CANO

The investigation into the Sierra Bermeja fire, which is still burning after six days - although stabilised since Friday - is beginning to show the first results.

Initial investigations by the Junta de Andalucía’s Forest Fire Investigation Brigade (BIIF) and the Guardia Civil’s Seprona nature protection service indicate that the blaze was started accidentally during maintenance tasks at the La Resinera 6,500-hectare private estate. Guardia Civil officers have arrested and taken statements from three employees of the finca. The fire has already destroyed more than 3,500 hectares of the Sierra Bermeja.

Now there will be a judicial inquiry to see if there was negligence, in view of the weather conditions in the area on 8 June, with gusts of wind exceeding 40 kilometres per hour and temperatures of up to 37 degrees.

Sources indicate that work was being carried out on a road with a machine that, by moving the rocks, could have caused a spark to fly that started the fire.

The fire has been stabilised since Friday and the extinction work is still ongoing before it can be considered controlled. Today, Tuesday 14 June, a total of 62 forest firefighters were deployed to put out the flames. Some 80% of the fire’s perimeter has been secured and crews have mainly focused their efforts on hot-spots that flare up.

At its height the fire forced the evacuation of the urban area of ​​Benahavís and some residential developments in Estepona. Three members of the Junta’s Plan Infoca specialist forest fire brigade were injured fighting the flames. Two of them were discharged after a few hours, while the third suffered burns that affected 10% of his body.