The wildfires which tore through Javea and Benitachell destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of up to 1,000 people, were not started by arsonists, it has been revealed.
Numerous reports at the time blamed the fires on marauding fire-raisers driving from site to site but SEPRONA, the Nature Protection Unit of the Guardia Civil, now say that was not the case.
The hand of man was however behind the fires but largely as a result of negligence by inconsiderate smokers, rather than the malicious actions of arsonists.
The SEPRONA investigation chimes with the findings of government delegate Juan Carlos Moragues who revealed that ‘many’ cigarette butts were found in the Mirador de Cumbres del Sol, the point where the fires started.
He had previously urged caution and condemned president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, for his claims of arson, suggesting that such accusations ultimately harmed the investigation.
In their official report released on October 11, SEPRONA confirmed that all outbreaks in Javea and Benitatxell could be traced back to cigarette embers, and that climatic conditions had enabled the fires to quickly spiral out of control.
Though ruled as ‘accidental’ the investigation into identifying the culprits who were smoking in these areas remains open.
Given the region’s history of forest fires, the time of year and countless awareness campaigns, the question of legal responsibility is very real.