By Benny Davis
THE cause of a massive fire that destroyed more than 2,226 acres of shrub land and pine forests inland from the Marina Alta town of Gandia earlier this month
is still under investigation.
The fire which raged for more than 20 hours, originated in Llocn de Sant Jerome and affected five towns resulting in the evacuation of around 350 people including the entire population of Montecorona and 120 souls from the nearby youth hostel Serra d’Ador, 35 of which were young children.
At the height of the blaze flames reached upwards of two metres and involved 386 emergency workers of 22 fire brigades, 39 fire engines, eight helicopters, six fire crews, three sections of the Emergency Military Unit (UME) nine aircraft and ten helicopters.
After being separated from their homes for many hours and the uncertainty as to whether their properties and contents would survive the blaze, it was a welcome relief when at around 9pm residents were official informed that it was safe to return.
“I was evacuated to emergency accommodation and am grateful to be safe and sound, but I just couldn’t sleep all night thinking about the fire,” said Silvia Huawes, a resident of Montecorona for 65 years.
Minister of the Interior, Serafin Castilian, stated he was working on two possible sources of fire source.
A cigarette butt carelessly thrown in a ditch full of dry brush or a witness report of hearing “three shots” and suddenly saw “three pillars of smoke” indication possible arson.
He added that there was always a third possibility that a farmer allowed burning stubble to get out of control.
“Unfortunately the severity of the blaze has left a blanket of black over what was an area of natural beauty. It will take a long time to regenerate.”