Estepona: Mass evacuation as fires rip through holiday hotspot
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The fire is believed to have broken out on Wednesday on high ground above the popular Spanish tourist resort town of Estepona on the Costa del Sol. One emergency worker has been killed in the blaze and around 2,000 people have been evacuated from the region.
Six towns and villages were evacuated on Sunday, and huge plumes of smoke could be seen from miles away.
Evacuations are still ramping up, with two more towns evacuated on Monday morning.
Residents of five other communities were told to leave their homes on Friday.
Regional environment chief Carmen Crespo said the blaze appears to have been set intentionally.
The battle is being made more difficult by “complicated terrain and the virulent behaviour of the fire”, officials said.
Strong winds and high temperatures are fanning the flames as the fire tears through brush and buildings.
The Spanish government has deployed a military unit to help firefighters in the mountainous region.
According to Spanish media, the fire has already devoured more than 7,400 hectares.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who authorised the deployment of the Military Emergency Unit, tweeted: “We will work in coordination and without rest in the face of the fire that is devastating the province of Malaga.”
Andalusia’s regional forest fire agency said 365 firefighters, supported by 41 aircraft and 25 vehicles, were trying to bring the fire under control.
Residents have spoken to the Reuters news agency of their horror.
Adriana Iacob said: “This is inhuman, nothing like this has ever been seen.
“The flames of the fire as they ran through the mountains, it was amazing.”
Another, Pepa Rubio, said: “Since the fire started, we haven’t slept for days. It’s awful.”
The towns of Jubrique, which has a population of about 500, and Genalguacil, with around 400 residents, have undergone what is described as a “preventative evacuation”.
Residents were already being confined to their homes because of low-lying smoke.
They will be staying at a sports centre in the nearby town of Ronda.
The Andalusian government said: “The evacuation is taking place with maximum security measures and before a possible unfavourable evolution of the fire in that area.”
Europe has seen a number of wildfires this summer, as climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.
The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began, and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.
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