Man held over fires in Spain that killed three

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The Independent Online

Police have arrested a man suspected of started several wildfires that raged across north-western Spain, killing three people and destroying thousands of acres of woodland.

Acting on tips from residents, police arrested the 24-year-old man, identified only by his initials A J S S, in Cerdedo, a town in Pontevedra, one of two provinces in the Galicia region hit worst by the fires.

Earlier, authorities said a 74-year-old man had died while fighting a fire in Pontevedra. He was the third forest-fire victim since Thursday in Galicia, where more than 12,000 acres of grass and woodlands have been charred.

The dead man, Manuel Aprada Fontella, was found on Sunday near Campo Lameiro. He had joined in the firefighting operation and was apparently engulfed by spreading flames.

The regional environment spokesman, Alfredo Suarez Canal, said most of fires were deliberately lit, and started on wooded slopes near inhabited areas.

More than 90 wildfires were reported in Galicia over the weekend, with 85 still ablaze yesterday.

Many fires had been started close to each other with a clear intention that winds would fan them into one big conflagration, said Iria Mendez, a spokeswoman for the fire department.