Lawsuit for major Costa del Sol fire only started ten years later

by Lorraine Williamson
ten years later after the forest fire

MáLAGA – More than ten years later the big fire on the Costa del Sol that raged between Barranco Blanco in Coín and Ojén in August 2012, the lawsuit is only beginning. The Public Prosecution Service demands 7.5 years in prison for the only defendant. 

The fire killed two people and injured four others. More than 8,500 hectares were destroyed. The huge forest fire caused a total of almost €40 million in economic damage. The damage to nature and the environment cannot be calculated. The trial will not start until 2023. The defendant is charged with forest fire for negligence and wrongful death and injuries. 

More than ten years later

The court in Málaga will start the hearing on January 30, 2023, more than ten years after the events. The sessions, which are held on different days, will last until June 29 that year. 

The Malaga Prosecutor’s Office is demanding 7.5 years in prison for those accused of the fire, a gardener and his client, which damaged homes and facilities of 347 people or entities. 

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The defendant, according to the environmental prosecutor’s first order, was maintaining and caring for a house in the area known as Barranco Blanco in Coin. From here, the fire spread to the municipalities of Mijas, Marbella, Alhaurín el Grande, Ojén and Monda. 

How the fire started 

The gardener was working on the fateful day in Coín, in the Barranco Blanco zone, on the land of a Belgian who used the house as a second home and was not present. The gardener lit a fire to burn garden waste. He wouldn’t have extinguished this before going home. According to the prosecutor, that is “absolutely irresponsible” given the time of year and the weather conditions. That day was very hot, there was a strong wind blowing and the humidity was very low. 

At 6.50 pm, authorities were alerted to a plume of smoke in the vicinity of Barranco Blanco. The flames quickly spread north to the top of a hill, then continued south. Several smaller fires started along the way. Just after 8.00 pm, all residents of the zone where the fire started had already been evacuated. Around midnight the fire had already arrived in Mijas Costa in La Cala and in Calahonda. And a little later, it reached Marbella (El Rosario and Elviria). 

That night the wind changed more to the northwest and the next morning areas in Alhaurín el Grande, Coín and the much more westerly Ojén and Monda were also ablaze. The fire was not brought under control until September 2 and it took another two days before it was completely extinguished by 8.00 pm on September 4. By that point, 8,582 hectares were destroyed in an area with a perimeter of 197.3 kilometres in the municipalities of Coín (510ha.), Alhaurin el Grande (163 ha.), Mijas (2.379ha.), Marbella (1,902ha.), Ojén (3,394) and Monda (228). 

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