UPDATED: Persons held in Police custody in connection with ‘l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa’ fire
Thousands of trees and creatures have been destroyed in massive fires which engulfed the grove in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa. The fires spread quickly because of the wind and were only brought under control several hours later. In regard to these fires, it is understood the Police are holding two persons who it is understood were camping in the area.
This is only part of the extensive damage inflicted in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, where the fires during the night destroyed not just many trees but also other creatures which live in the grove. Among the ashes and suffocating smoke, we spotted a chameleon, one of the many creatures which ended up being burnt alive in the inferno.
A conservationist who was on-site stated it would be difficult to quantify the destruction, which included hundreds of mature pine trees.
It is not being excluded that the fire started from a naked flame ignited by campers, and spread through the grove with a helping hand from the wind prevailing during the night hours.
According to reports received by TVM, the persons who were at the site escaped the flames and made off with just the clothes they were wearing. Civil Protection personnel managed to rescue a dog from the flames, which they fought for some nine hours before controlling the inferno.
Police officers from Qawra Police Station are investigating some persons as part of their inquiries.
Frederick Gambin, who often gave a helping hand to maintain a decent environment in the area, expressed his frustration.
“You can see the destruction for yourselves. These trees have been here for 45 years. Now there’s nothing left and they can camp to their hearts’ content, as everything has been burnt. All I can say is thank you to those who have been here since three o’clock, pumping water from bowser after bowser.”
Mr Gambin said this is not the first time fires have been started in this grove.
“Trees have destroyed here ever since camping started. Further in, near the Madonna, no more than 30% of the original number. I can tell, as I’m always around. Further in, one can see waste, rubbish, fire patches. Nothing is ever done, and the environment is regressing.”
Mellieha Mayor Dario Vella expressed the need for a monitoring system all over the area in order to avoid such situations and safeguard the environment.