Six Irish people appear in Spanish court for accidental lantern fire at dinner party
SIX Irish people suspected of starting a fire in a Spanish natural park have insisted they tried to put out the flames and called the emergency services themselves.
The six appeared in court today with two Americans arrested alongside them around midnight on Monday night after a blaze in a protected area on the Costa Blanca.
A judge decided to release them after taking statements in a closed court hearing while he continues his probe into the blaze which destroyed around 1,000 square metres of woodland.
They have not been charged with any crime but have been named as suspects in an official investigation into a fire in a protected area caused by negligence.
Police said yesterday they were called to the scene of the blaze, at the Montgo Mountain Nature Park between the resorts of Denia and Javea, after locals phoned to report seeing sky lanterns falling in the area.
They said they had arrested five Irish nationals and two Americans who had been having a dinner party at a house bordering the natural park.
That number rose to eight today - as the number of Irish facing judicial proceedings went up to six.
Court sources said the foreigners, believed to be relatives, were holding a family get-together following the death of a family member.
The source said: "They sent up a type of flare which rises high into the sky and disintegrates.
"On this occasion it didn't disintegrate, fell to the ground and set light to woodland.
"They tried to put the flames out but couldn't and ended up calling the emergency services."
None of the Irish nationals were named.
The judicial investigation is expected to last for at least several weeks.