AROUND 100 forestry staff and firemen, aided by seven fire-fighting aircraft, were still battling yesterday to extinguish a devastating woodland fire on Ibiza.

A spokesman for the ten land-based brigades and air services said that although the blaze was gradually coming under control after destroying just under 400 hectares of terrain, there was little likelihood of it being completely extinguished until next week.

The fire, which began in the Benirras area of the municipality of Sant Joan has been under investigation by the nature protection sector of the Guardia Civil (Seprona). In a statement yesterday, Seprona said that in the absence of any indications to the contrary, they have since discounted the possibility of arson and are working on the hypothesis that the fire was sparked through negligence close to a cave just a few metres from Cala Benirras where a hippy community had set up camp. Seprona said that to date no arrests have been made in connection with the outbreak but intentions are that those responsible should be identified and interrogated.

Balearic President, Francesc Antich supported Seprona's investigations yesterday by confirming that the blaze had started through carelessness and not as had previously been thought through an accidental vehicle explosion.