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600 people evacuated in wildfire near town in Costa Del Sol

The fire broke out on Wednesday evening and the Forest Fire Investigation Brigade said it may have been started intentionally

Graham Keeley
in Madrid
Thursday 09 September 2021 18:38 BST
Fire spreading across Spain's Costa del Sol forces hundreds to evacuate

At least 600 people have been evacuated from their homes in the hills above the southern Spanish resort town of Estepona on Thursday as firefighting teams and planes fought a wildfire.

The blaze in the Sierra Bermeja mountain range started late on Wednesday and grew overnight prompting evacuations near Estepona, an area of the Costa del Sol which is normally popular with British tourists and expatriates.

Twenty-nine planes and helicopters were scrambled to work with 250 firefighters to extinguish the fire.

Dense smoke from the blaze forced authorities to close 14km (9 miles) of the AP-7 motorway, one of the major coastal roads, but this was later re-opened on Thursday afternoon. Two smaller roads have also been closed.

No-one has been injured.

“What a terrifying night. The fire came very close to us. We have been up all night ready to evacuate. It is very hard to take in,” Lars Christensen, 57, who runs the El Molino hotel in Estepona, told The Independent.

“The swimming pool is now black with ashes.”

The Danish businessman had to wake all his guests and prepare them to leave if the police gave the order.

“We are still waiting to see what happens as the fire is still very close. If they do not bring this under control by night then the planes cannot go up and it may get worse.”

Daria Dubinina posted on social media: “What an absolute nightmare night for everyone. Three forest fires in Estepona. Could not sleep all night. Too close to home. Strong smell of fire all night, red sun in the morning, ashes everywhere on the balcony.

“Can’t believe the level of neglect by some individuals which cause utter unimaginable damage to the environment, animals and people.”

The fire started at about 9.30pm on Wednesday in two different places, said the Forest Fire Investigation Brigade, who added that it may have been started intentionally.

“At the moment we have about 600 people who have been evacuated from their homes,”  Carmen Crespo, agriculture minister for the Andalusian regional government, told reporters.

“The fire has burnt about 2,600 hectares. One building has been burnt but no-one has been injured.”

Infoca, the firefighting service, said the steep terrain made battling the fire “difficult” and efforts were also hampered by high winds of up to 45km/h.

Wildfires are common in southern Europe during the hot, dry summer months. But scientists have warned high temperatures, linked to climate change, could prompt severe blazes in the Iberian peninsula – as has already been seen in other Mediterranean countries.

Forest fires have destroyed 74,200 hectares (183,000 acres) in Spain up to 29 August this year, according to government data.

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