Endesa was found guilty of being the responsible party behind a hillfire in 2014 in Sierra de Gador that consumed 3,200 hectares.
Experts concluded that the fire was caused by the lack of maintenance on a low-tension power line which belongs to Endesa. Consequentely, the utility company has to pay the Junta de Andalucia 8.4m euros in compensation for the “loss of forest mass.”
Endesa had entered an appeal against the court sentence reached by an Almería court of the first instance but the appeals court had rejected all their allegations because of “overwhelming evidence that the fire was caused by sparks from a line that was both sagging and with its insulation material in a deteriorated state.”
The judge emphasised the fact that Endesa, as the owner of the line, had the responsiblity of inspecting such installations on a yearly basis where they pass through wooded areas under Artículo. 23.2 of the Reglamento Forestal de Andalucía.
Not only was the line in a deteriorated state but the undergrowth beneath where it passes had not been cut back, which is an integral part of line maintenance in wooded areas.
Endesa had alleged injerencia de causa extraña (outside interference) but expert reports completely ruled out any trace of a JCB or other heavy machinery in the area, both on the day of the fire or in days leading up to it.
Endesa also alleged that the Junta had no intention of using the affected trees for timber, therefore the sum that the Junta had demanded in compensation bordered on illicit gain.
However, the judge considered that masa maderable (lumber mass) has nothing to do with timber contained. It is about the present or future potencial of the area as an economic resource and not about the intentions of the proprietor concerning its use.
(News: Sierra de Gador, Almeria, Andalucia)