Employees from the Cachopo wind turbine construction company have been formally charged with starting a fire that destroyed more than 26,000 hectares of scrubland in the Algarve last month.
The case, which is being investigated by the PJ police was subject to forensic testing after the fire that consumed large parts of Tavira and São Brás de Alportel municipalities between 18 and 22 July.
A police source told Lusa News Agency that the initial focus of the blaze followed a slow burning fire that the wind turbine company employees carried out in a clearing near an electricity pylon.
This type of fire implies the burning of large quantities of wood inside an earth mound and is normally used to produce charcoal, although it is illegal.
The incident caused the fire to start when the top of the earth mound collapsed onto the burning wood, causing a volcano effect, where sparks and burning material is projected for several metres.
The initial blaze is believed to have started around 30 metres from the earth mound fire, due to sparks that flew around midday on 18 July, possibly during a moment of distraction by those tending to the illegal fire.
According to the police source, it was the workers, who were laying energy cables between the pylons, who called the fire brigade.
The case remains under investigation and there are no definite conclusions yet, according to the police source, who did not reveal the number of formal suspects.
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