With the autumn rains fast approaching Spain’s specialist fire teams of Infoca could be excused for slapping themselves on the back after another summer without any major blazes in Málaga province. Then the Estepona fire struck and destroyed more land than has been burnt in wild fires in the province in the last three years.
The fire started in the area of the San Isidro Labrador municipal park in Estepona last Wednesday and quickly spread thanks to the strong winds in the direction of Casares. It was not till Friday that Infoca declared the fire was fully controlled although operatives stayed on duty to ensure there were no flare ups.
Initial estimates suggested the fire had burned 600 hectares of scrub and tree covered hillside but that was later revised down to 520 hectares. The over calculation is easy to explain because of the difficult terrain, the same problem that hindered fire teams in tackling the flames.
In the last three years around 500 hectares has been burnt in wild fires in Málaga province so the Estepona fire exceeded that large area. It was also the third worst fire in the last decade after Cortes de la Frontera in 2006 which destroyed 660 hectares and Mijas in 2001 which burnt 1,100 hectares.
The Brigada de Investigación is working on the theory that the fire was started deliberately in the San Isidro Labrador park after receiving information from a worker who saw somebody leaving the area hurriedly just before the blaze took hold. On visiting the scene it is plain to see how the fire started near the shrine and then took off with the wind towards Casares.
There were major concerns that the inferno would damage historical and valuable environmental sites in the fire’s path. The 5,000 year old Megalithic Necropolis at Corominas in Estepona has not suffered structural damage from the flames and fire fighters were on standby to protect the Monte del Duque, an area of high ecological value in Casares, but the inferno passed it by.
Now what has this got to do with a dog turd I hear you cry?
Well as I walked across the burnt out land I happened upon said turd. It was not a common style doggie doo but shaped so that it had a finger like protrusion pointing towards heaven. It had survived the raging inferno, was certainly baked but now held firm. A sign surely that whilst devastation may be all around us we can still cock our leg at life.
Is he barking mad?
Woof, I reply!
Stop Press: on Thursday it was announced that an Estepona woman had been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire. Police tracked her down after acting on information supplied by eye witnesses. She has appeared in court and been released on bail as the judge did not believe she would flee. The mayors of Estepona and Casares have stated they will demand the full weight of the law is brought to bare on any person convicted.