A massive blaze at an illegal tyre dump near Madrid was arson, Spanish police have said.
The fire, which saw 9,000 people evacuated from their homes in the town of Seseña amid fears of carcinogenic particles in the smoke, was brought under control by firefighters over the weekend.
Around a fifth of the 11-hectare dump was affected affected, where thousands of tonnes of tyres are piled up.
Spanish authorities believe arsonists may have started the blaze, which erupted just days after local authorities agreed a deal to recycle the stockpile.
“Everything indicates that the fire was started intentionally,” the mayor of Seseña, Carlos Velázquez, said.
The stockpile had built up after Spanish firm Disfilt SA abandoned plans in 2005 for a recycling operation on the site because it fell foul of environmental regulations.
On May 9 a state company, which deals with industrial residues, sent out a memo to the Castile La Mancha regional administration detailing a plan to recycle the rubber.
The €5.6m (£4.4m) plan was to be 80% funded by the European Regional Development Fund and looked set to bring an end to a decade of concern over the safety risk posed by the illegal dump.
Disfilt SA is reported to have unpaid fines of €600,000, issued over environmental regulations before it had recycled any tyres.
Police say that once the heap of molten rubber has cooled down they will be able to start examining the site, although it is feared that few clues will be left after the blaze.