A RETIRED Guardia Civil has been arrested accused of starting ten fires in the Cerro Gordo area of La Herradura.
The 60-year-old Nerja resident has appeared in court in Almuñecar and since been released with charges pending a trial.
Just an hour after he was released, another fire was started in La Herradura area, and the Guardia Civil are now attempting to prove that the suspect started it.
The investigation started at the end of last summer, local firemen, Guardia Civil and Civil Protection had been searching for the person who set the fires, sometimes even using retardants which would allow them from the scene before the flames were too big.
They left no tracks but the Guardia Civil discovered that every time there was a major fire in La Herradura or Nerja area, there had been other smaller fires in the days running up to it.
One such occasion was a major fire on February 12, but there were three smaller fires the week before. In October there were four fires within a matter of days.
None of the fires have had serious consequences thanks to the rapid arrival of the fire department, but thousands of metres of pine and mountain areas of great environmental importance were burned.
Due to the alarm in the area, the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service, set up special surveillance together with Junta de Andalucia Environmental Department officers.
It wasn’t until late last month that the suspect was finally arrested, and although he was never caught setting a fire, he was present at each fire and witnesses placed him at the scene before the fire started on several occasions.
By Jennifer Leighfield