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article imageChinese sky lanterns spark Valencia fire, tourists blamed

By Anne Sewell     Jul 31, 2013 in World
Denia - A fire in a nature reserve near the coastal holiday town of Dénia in the Community of Valencia was started by Chinese sky lanterns, lit and sent up by tourists in the area.
Soon after the fire started, officers found several tourists having dinner at a house close by. The tourists, aged between 35 and 44, admitted to sending a number of sky lanterns up into the air.
Two American and six Irish tourists have now been arrested for allegedly causing the fire in the nature reserve near Dénia in Alicante province.
Authorities at El Montgó mountain range near Dénia in eastern Spain had to evacuate dozens of residents in the early hours of Tuesday morning as the fire spread through the dry grasses and trees in the area.
Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames after about an hour, by which stage 1,000 square meters of woodland had been destroyed.
National Police were called by a neighbor, who noticed a Chinese sky lantern, made from paper and with a lit candle inside it, descending from the skies into a forested area.
Police officers at the scene found a group of people enjoying dinner in a house close to the fire, who admitted sending the sky lanterns into the air.
A spokesman for Alicante's National Police said that “If the wind had been stronger we could have been facing a disaster.”
None of the tourists, consisting of three women and five men, have been named. They have been granted bail by a Valencia judge on Wednesday, pending court proceedings.
Fire risk is strong in Spain during the hot summer months, with Mallorca recently experiencing a devastating forest fire on the Tramuntana mountain range. That fire was caused by men being careless with hot coals from a barbeque.
Tourists should always take care during these hot, dry months, as even a cigarette butt, carelessly tossed from a car window, can ignite a serious fire.
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