THE trial for the man accused of starting the devastating forest fire in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in July of 2013 has begun at the Provincial Court in Palma.
The 58-year-old resident of Andratx accepted that he had been responsible for the fire, although he stressed that it was not an intentional act. He also told the court that he had been deeply affected by what had happened.
On the evening of July 25, the accused and two of his friends had a barbecue at a property on the Cami Son Jovera in Andratx, depositing the left over coals on a patch of land. When he woke up at 10am the following morning he insisted that he checked the coals were “cold and out” and did not see any sign of smoke to believe there was any risk.
It was his brother who then noticed the fire, calling the emergency services, but it took over an hour for the fire brigade to arrive. Alongside his friends, the defendant used a blanket and buckets of water to try and extinguish the fire, however their efforts proved futile because of the wind.
A sergeant from Guardia Civil’s Seprona Environment Protection Unit informed the court that the fire had started in a pile of prunings and evidence pointed to embers being tossed onto this pile rather than being scattered. On the day in question, the temperature was also very high (38°C) and the humidity was low, with the location of the source of the fire being particularly difficult to access by fire crews.
Another officer from the Seprona division said that the accused had acted unwisely and that they should have known better to not have deposited barbecue coals on dry vegetation. He also added that no one could have been able to predict that a fire could have progressed as rapidly as it did, but nevertheless, the accused should have poured water onto the barbecue remains before throwing them away.
The fire claimed 2,347 hectares of land in the Serra de Tramuntana and was the worst ever to occur in the Balearic Islands.
The prosecution is asking for a sentence of seven and a half years for the defendant and to pay €6 million in compensation.