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Spanish mayor charged with setting town on fire

Steve Tallantyre · 25 Jun 2014, 10:26

Published: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 GMT+02:00

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Ernesto Sanjuán and Andreu Piqueras, both from Spain’s ruling Popular Party, were accused of using the fireworks on April 26th this year in an area of Cullera (Valencia) where it was prohibited due to a ‘Level 3 Pre-Emergency Fire Risk’ classification. 

Even open fires and outdoor barbeques are banned in the dry, forested area but, despite this, the town hall decided to go ahead with the fireworks display to mark the beginning of a local public holiday, with results even more spectacular than anticipated.

No lives were lost in the resulting blaze but the area around the town was left blackened and scorched.

After the flames had been extinguished by emergency services, ecological groups and other political parties were quick to point the finger at the organizers.

Lluís Torró, EUPV (Valencian Community United Left) member of Valencia’s regional parliament described the decision to go ahead with the fireworks display as “intolerable” and “gravely irresponsible”, according to Spanish daily 20 Minutos.

The spokesperson for local green and left-wing party Coalició Compromís (Compromise Coalition), Juan Ponce, called on the mayor to resign in the aftermath of the fire, saying “Sanjuán has endangered the lives of many people, causing an ecological disaster from which it will take decades to recover."

EUPV and Coalició filed charges against the two politicians, who now have three days to appeal.

Story continues below…

According to the Spanish edition of The Huffington Post, the public prosecutor has instructed the judge to consider charging the men with the serious crime of ‘negligent arson’ due to ‘evidence’ that they had ‘full responsibility’ for authorizing the fireworks.

Local emergency services confirmed that had sent a fax to the organizers informing them that they were not allowed to set off the fireworks due to the level 3 pre-emergency fire risk status that day.

The case is due to be heard on July 14th.

Steve Tallantyre (news@thelocal.es)

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