Campers to be charged as extensive fire breaks out at l-Aħrax

Three campers are set to be arraigned over an extensive grass fire which destroyed several trees at l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa early on Sunday.

The Civil Protection Department deployed several firefighting units to deal with the fire as soon as it was alerted to it, and the public was asked to avoid the area for a number of hours while the fire was brought under control with some difficulty.

Early on Sunday morning the Civil Protection Department was alerted to respond to a large grass fire in the areas of…

Posted by Civil Protection Malta on Sunday, May 17, 2020

Police went on site, where they discovered the likely source of the fire: a fire-pit close to three tents. They searched the area and found a mobile phone which belonged to a 33-year-old man from Floriana. The man had been camping – despite lacking the necessary permits to do so – together with two 29-year-olds, a man from Safi and a woman from Paola.

The fire appears to have started accidentally, but spread rapidly due to strong winds, leading the campers to evacuate the site.

Police investigations are ongoing, but the three campers are to be taken to court over the incident.

FKNK to assess damage

The area is part of the reserve managed by the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK), which said that first indications suggested that a large number of trees and bushes, as well as a substantial part of the area’s natural habitat, were destroyed in the fire.

It highlighted that campers could only camp in a specific area of the reserve, and then only if they obtain a permit from the Mellieħa local council – a permit which does not authorise them to srtart fires.

The federation said that in the coming days, it would assess the damage caused with the help of the police.