VALDES – At the end of March, Asturias was startled by a wave of forest fires. No less than 116 fires raged in 35 different municipalities. Moreover, the authorities already suspected there was an arsonist at work. Furthermore, the Guardia Civil has now been able to confirm that was the case for some.
The Seprona environmental police of the Guardia Civil has arrested the person believed to be responsible for the major fire that destroyed 10,000 hectares of land in Valdés, northwest Spain, in March. Two other suspected arsonists have also been arrested in connection with two other fires in Allande, including one that destroyed 1,200 hectares in Busstantigo.
The investigation by the Guardia Civil in Asturias into the fires that ravaged the Principality mainly between March and April continues. So far, 29 investigations have resulted in 3 arrests.
Collaboration between the Seprona Civil Guard Unit and the Fire Investigation Brigades (BRIPAS) has been essential in clarifying the causes of the fires and identifying the perpetrators.
More than 12,000 hectares of land destroyed
The total area affected in the fires investigated so far is more than 12,000 hectares of scrub, trees and low-lying mountains. The fires mainly occurred in March and April, when the INFOPA plan was active due to the prevailing climatic conditions (high temperatures and strong winds). This led to the rapid spread of the fires, forcing some homes to be evacuated and major access roads to be closed.
Some evacuated buildings were hit by the flames and damaged. Among the affected municipalities were Grado, Onís, Morcín, Gijón, Boal, Pola de Allende, Piloña, Belmonte de Miranda, Parres, Villayón, Colunga, Ribadesella, Laviana, Pellamellera Alta, Infiesto, Caso, Nava, Tineo and Gozón.
Of the fires investigated so far (32), the BRIPAS of the Principality of Asturias found that 23 were caused deliberately, of which 20 were for pasture regeneration and three for other agricultural interests or in connection with land use conflicts; nine were caused by negligence in burning green waste, forestry work, fireworks or other agricultural/livestock work.
They also investigated alleged perpetrators of fires in March in Besnes and Pastoria, which burned more than 132 hectares, and the most recent in August in the Sierra del Ques (Infiesto), which destroyed 400 hectares of lowlands and pines. The Guardia Civil continues the investigation.