Massive wildfire sees 3,000 people evacuated from south coast; ongoing rescue operations
A wildfire that broke out on Wednesday afternoon prompted the evacuation of around 3,000 people near the tourist resorts of Marbella and Estepona on Spain’s southern coast, according to local emergency authorities. To tackle the massive blaze in the popular Costa del Sol region, around 1,000 firefighters, military and support personnel were dispatched by the emergency services.
According to the delegation of the Spanish administration in Malaga, a firefighter was burned while helping with the evacuation and is in serious condition while two other people were slightly injured and were taken to hospital.
Firefighters, with the help of numerous helicopters and drones, are fighting the forest fire, which is currently burning south of the small town of Pujerra, in the highlands of Sierra Bermeja, in the province of Malaga, reported ANI.
A fire rages in southern Spain
Apart from this, members of the Military Emergencies Unit (UME) of the Spanish Armed Forces were also dispatched to help put out the fire. Authorities said Spain’s emergency military unit, which is tasked with assisting civilian forces in catastrophic emergencies, has sent 233 men and more than 80 vehicles to the area, AP reported.
The cross organization assists them. Officials said people were evicted as a precaution from five separate locations in Malaga province on Wednesday evening, with the majority hiding with relatives or local hotels.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. It started around 3 p.m. (local time) in La Resinera, an isolated and almost inaccessible wood.
Moreover, authorities in the arid and mountainous region of Andalusia raced against time when Spain’s weather bureau AEMET warned that the country could be on the cusp of a heatwave. Temperatures are expected to reach well over 30 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday, with the weekend expected to be significantly warmer.
Forest fire damage
The blaze has so far destroyed 2,150 hectares (5,000 acres) of hilly terrain, according to the Andalusian Forest Fire Extinguishing Service, Infoca. Authorities expected a change in wind direction on Thursday to help firefighters in their efforts to put out the blaze. On standby were seven water-dropping helicopters and a coordination aircraft.
Last year, Spain’s deadliest wildfire scorched the same rocky territory inland from the resort town of Marbella. After 46 days, the fire was finally extinguished, having destroyed approximately 10,000 hectares (24,000 acres). The fire claimed the life of a firefighter.