Man arrested over forest fire

A man who emerged blinking and sooty-faced from the site of a large fire in the municipality of Archidona has been detained by the Guardia Civil on suspicion of starting the blaze deliberately.

The 41-year-old was seen staggering out of the burning forest on Saturday claiming to have become disorientated by the plumes of thick smoke.

He was immediately rushed to hospital apparently ‘covered in scratches’ and having inhaled large quantities of the acrid fumes. But his stay did not last long as a judge ordered his immediate detention without bail pending the results of an arson investigation.

The fire affected around 110 hectares, a third of the beautiful Arroyo Marin valley.

It has so far been traced back to a burned out Citroen Berlingo van that was found close to where the man was picked up.

Around 500 firefighters and 11 air-borne vehicles were called in to battle the inferno at the height of its intensity on Saturday, and although it was controlled by Sunday some smaller pockets continued to burn as EWN went to press.

The mayor of Archidona, Mercedes Montero, confirmed it remains unclear whether the suspect is guilty of arson, with investigations focused on how his vehicle caught fire.

Montero also issued a request for citizens to stay away from the scene until it can be confirmed that the fire is completely extinguished, with dangers including falling rocks and branches.

Junta de Andalucia delegate for Malaga, Jose Luis Ruiz Espejo, despondently admitted the affected area is of “high ecological value.”

Five firefighters returning to their Genalguacil base were injured on Saturday in a road crash. One of the men is said to be in a serious condition.

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