940 people evacuated as wildfire rips through Spain’s Malaga province
A worsening wildfire that kept advancing through forest land and prompted the evacuation of nearly 1,000 residents has claimed the life of one firefighter, authorities in southern Spain said late on Thursday.
About 250 firefighters backed by 26 water-dropping aircraft were battling the blaze which broke out late on Wednesday in the Sierra Bermeja mountains in the southern province of Malaga, the regional government of Andalusia said in a statement.
Several told Spanish public television TVE they were given only minutes to leave by police.
Firefighters said strong winds, with gusts of up to 60kmh, dry conditions and the steep mountain slopes were making it difficult to put out the flames.
“Winds are getting stronger but luckily even though they are getting stronger, which will complicate the fire, they are coming from the west which moves the fire away from built-up areas,” the head of the Malaga firefighter division, Mr Manuel Marmolejo, told reporters.
Local officials suspect the blaze may have been deliberately started, as it broke out in several places at around the same time.
Summer wildfires are a recurring problem in Spain, where there were large blazes this year in places such as Ávila. And in the Canary Islands, a project is underway to document the rebirth of a highly valuable natural area that was reduced to ashes two years ago.