Spain wildfire: Costa del Sol towns evacuated amid huge blaze

More than 1,000 now displaced by blaze authorities believe may have been started deliberately

Jon Sharman
Sunday 12 September 2021 18:11
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A massive wildfire has forced the evacuation of another two towns in southern Spain days after hundreds of people were rushed out of a popular resort.

The Spanish military has now been deployed to help tackle the blaze which began on Wednesday near Estepona in the Costa del Sol, an area popular with British tourists and expatriates.

Fanned by strong winds and high late-summer temperatures, the flames have driven hundreds of people from their homes and killed one emergency worker. Authorities in Andalucia believe the fire may have been started deliberately.

“We will work in coordination and without rest in the face of the fire that is devastating the province of Malaga,” said Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, on Twitter.

Andalucia’s regional forest fire agency said on Sunday that 365 firefighters, supported by 41 aircraft and 25 vehicles, were currently working to put out the fire in the Sierra Bermeja mountains.

“Ground firefighters are working intensively in harsh conditions trying to stop the advancing flames,” it said on Twitter, where it shared footage of firefighters attempting to control flames raging across dry and hilly terrain.

Andalucia’s regional government announced on Sunday emergency services had ordered the “preventative evacuation” of the towns of Jubrique and Genalguacil, with a combined population of about 900, where residents had been confined to their homes the day before because of low-lying smoke.

“The evacuation is taking place with maximum security measures and before a possible unfavourable evolution of the fire in that area,” the regional government said in a statement.

Evacuees will be housed in a sports centre in the nearby town of Ronda.

Ash from the main fire appears to be starting separate blazes, complicating the work of firefighters.

On Thursday at least 600 people were brought out of Estepona as the fire came closer. Hotelier Lars Christensen, 57, told The Independent: “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. The swimming pool is now black with ashes.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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