AN arsonist may be behind the Competa forest fire that ravaged 200 hectares of forest and forced 600 people out of their homes over the weekend. According to Jose Luis Ruiz Espejo, Delegate of the Junta de Andalucia in Malaga, the fire did not start “by chance.” The arson hypothesis is based on the fact that the fire broke out on a riverside walking trail next to the Competa-Canillas de Albaida motorway. “We are trying to determine whether the fire was intentional or the result of bad farming.” said the delegate talking to the media. Nearly a dozen fires broke out last year in the same area, which prompted local authorities to convene a security meeting and beef up police surveillance in the area. Infoca’s research brigade is currently looking into the causes of the fire and any further conclusions will have to wait for its final report. According to a WWF report, close to 16,500 forest fires break out in Spain every year and their intensity and impact seem to have increased. It is estimated that 0.2 per cent of the forest fires in Spain burned 64 per cent of affected areas.