#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 3°C Sunday 27 September 2020

Thousands flee deadly wildfire in Spain

At least one person has been killed by the forest fires and five injured, officials say.

Firefighter tries to control a raging forest fire
Firefighter tries to control a raging forest fire
Image: Sergio Torres/AP/Press Association Images

TOWERING FLAMES RACED through forests near the glitzy Spanish resort of Marbella on today, killing at least one person, injuring five and sending thousands fleeing.

More than 250 firefighters on the ground, backed by eight planes and nine helicopters, battled the blaze after hot, dry winds blew it through the tinder-dry mountain forest in southern Spain, officials said.

Bright orange flames danced high above the tree tops, lighting up the night sky yesterday as a 12-kilometer line of fire glowed across the Sierra Negra mountains by the Costa del Sol resort.

The inferno, which forced thousands of people to flee their homes, has killed one man, left a couple with major burns, and sent a mother and her two children scurrying into a cave to escape the danger.

One elderly man apparently made a fatal error of returning to his home near Marbella after he and his wife were evacuated the previous night, a spokesman for the Andalusia regional government told AFP.

His corpse was found near the charred remains of the house, and firefighters were searching the rubble in case his wife had also perished, the spokesman said.

“It seems that they went back at their own risk,” he said.

“The house is charred and collapsed, so the firefighters are going through the rubble because there is a possibility that the woman could have died, but that is not confirmed.”

The couple were not identified.

Another five people were taken to hospital, among them a Spanish couple being treated in Marbella for major second and third-degree burns, the spokesman said.

“They are in a serious state with mechanical ventilation,” he said, describing them as a married couple: a woman of 58 and her husband whose age was not known.

Spanish media said they were caught when the flames reached their chalet in the district of Rosario in the foothills of the mountains overlooking long white beaches along the Mediterranean coast.

(Image: Sergio Torres/AP)

A 45-year-old mother and her two children, one aged three and the other 11, took refuge from the inferno in a cave, and were now recovering in hospital, the government spokesman said.

“They are being treated for bruises and with oxygen,” he said. Their injuries were not believed to be serious.

Elias Bendodo, president of the government of the Malaga province, said thousands of people had been evacuated, mostly as a precaution, but it was impossible to give detailed figures.

In one area people had to be evacuated as the flames engulfed trees just one kilometre (half a mile) away from housing, but firefighters managed to bring it under control, he told public radio.

The inferno broke out yesterday afternoon, later extending across half a dozen municipal districts including Marbella.

Marbella’s sandy beaches and vibrant night life attract about 1.5 million foreign tourists a year, mostly Britons but also Nordic visitors and Germans, French, Italians, Dutch and Belgians.

“A relative lack of humidity, strong winds and high temperatures in the afternoon helped the fire to grow quickly,” said a statement by the regional government of southern Andalusia.

(Image: Sergio Torres/AP)

Before dawn Friday, winds dropped and the air was more humid, helping firefighters to tackle the blaze, the Andalucia government said. “The fire may be stabilised in the next hours,” it said.

Spain is at particularly high risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years, and blazes have broken out in various parts of the country in recent days.

Flames have destroyed 139,886 hectares (353,665 acres) of land between January 1 and August 12, three times the amount during the same time last year and the highest amount in a decade, according to agriculture ministry figures.

- © AFP, 2012

About the author:

TheJournal.ie Team

Read next: