Ibiza battles biggest wildfire in its history, man detained

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Police in Spain detained a beekeeper suspected of accidentally starting the biggest wildfire in the history of the holiday island of Ibiza, local officials said Thursday.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire erupted Wednesday near the town of Sant Joan de Labritja in the north of the Mediterranean island and has so far burned at least 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of land, a spokesman for the regional government's environment department said.

"It is the biggest wildfire in Ibiza since records started being kept," he said.

Police detained a 50-year-old Spanish national of Argentine origin who is accused of starting the fire with a smoker he was using to blow smoke into a beehive, a police spokesman said.

He faces charges of negligence.

"A spark fell at the moment that the fire started," the spokesman said.

Beekeepers use smokers to quiet bees and protect themselves from getting stung.

Some 300 people, backed by eight helicopters and three planes, fought the wildfire in oven-hot winds. The fire has torched mostly pine forest and scrubland and is not near built-up areas.

© 2011 AFP

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