Palma.—As we reported yesterday, 44-year-old Ignacio Gomez Heredia is believed to have started the fire by dumping the still hot coal of a BBQ held on Thursday with three friends, including his brother, on waste land on Friday morning.

He appeared in court in Palma late on Tuesday night and the judge turned down the prosecution's plea that he be jailed with bail denied but charged him with grand negligence and he has to report to his local police station every week while the investigation continues.

That investigation could take time because, as the Bulletin witnessed from the air early yesterday morning, the mountains are still smoldering.
One house was still wrapped in smoke and the experts have said it could take until next weekend until the fire is extinguished.
We were airborne at 9am, before any of the emergency services, the area over the fire was only reopened to non emergency traffic late on Tuesday night and all across the moonscape of the blackened 2'335 hectares where pockets of small fires still smoldering, plumes of smoke rose into the sky all across the mountain tops.

Nothing stirred down below, we were and felt totally alone. However, the fire is certainly contained and as we landed, emergency aircrews were getting ready to finally bring the fire under control.

One of the most striking things, apart from the fact that the smell of torched forest and scrub land was still fierce on the nose at 200 feet, was just how difficult a task it was to have fought the fire.

Many of the areas were totally inaccessible on land and seeing it from the air brings home just what an amazing and brave job the pilots of 29 water-carrying aircraft carried out in bombing the flames tirelessly for five days.

Not only did the flames rage down to the coast, they also came within metres of scores of isolated properties and swept across mountain roads, many of which remained closed yesterday, some hardly visible under the ash and many of the areas are still only accessible from the air.

Only once the ground crews get right into the heart of the fire zone and the mountains will the true extent of the blaze be assessed. But, as it is the extent of the damage caused to the environment is immense and shocking.

The Balearic environmental group GOB has apparently already been approached by over 2'000 volunteers who want to help in a reforestation programme this Autumn and central government sources said yesterday that at the end of the Summer it will consider declaring the area a disaster zone which will lead to extra funds and resources being freed up to help repair the damage. UNESCO has also expressed its concern about what has happened to a UNESCO natural heritage site.

GOB also revealed yesterday that nearly 70 percent of the La Trapa nature reserve has been destroyed with a wide range of autochthonous flora and fauna destroyed not to mention wildlife caught in the fire across the 2'000 hectares.

The Majorcan Hotel Federation has offered those who helped fight the fires free holidays as a sign of gratitude and solidarity on behalf of Majorcan hoteliers and the tourist industry at large.

At 9.30am yesterday morning, the emergency standing was reduced from level 2 to level one with three brigades of fire fighters and a battalion from the military emergency unit still on the scene working at getting the fire finally under control.The main objective yesterday was to target all those hot spots which were still burning or smoldering and to continue dampening down the perimeter in order to prevent the fire from springing to life again and spreading.

Fortunately, temperatures are not as high as they were last week and there was little to no wind yesterday and that would have helped the operation to get the fire under control yesterday.

Surprisingly, the fire attracted little attention from the UK media although the Daily Mail did cover the story, using most of Frank Leavers's copy and attributing it all to the Majorca Daily Bulletin.


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