Expats evacuated as firefighters battle huge Costa del Sol blaze

Published:  27 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving, USA
A massive wildfire is threatening Marbella and Donana National Park, whilst over a thousand people including expats have been forced to evacuate the area.

Believed to have started after midnight near the town of Coin, near Malaga, the blaze spread across the AP7 highway and threatened to engulf Ojen before it entered the limits of Donana National Park, home to many endangered species and unique wetlands. Thousands of people were evacuated from homes, hotels and campsites in and around the coastal town of Moguer. The region is a popular destination not only for tourists but also for British expats, the majority of whom are retirees.

Evacuation centres are up and running across the affected areas, including several on the edges of Marbella itself, and hundreds of firefighters have been struggling to get the blaze under control. Emergency military personnel as well as 31 helicopters and planes are helping the effort, hampered by hot, dry winds and temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The mayor of Mijas, a small town between Malaga and Marbella, reported horrific scenes of huge flames between 10 and 15 metres high, and other reports suggest the fire might have been the result of arson. A prolonged heatwave has left the countryside as dry as tinder, making it easy prey for the fast-moving flames.

One British woman told the media she and her family saw the flames coming and fled their apartment, driving through still-burning, falling embers to escape the conflagration. Residents from Ojen panicked as the fire drew nearer, with many escaping with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. A British resident in Monda heard the warning sirens and saw the approaching flames in time to flee with her dogs, cats and four chickens.

According to the British Embassy, after a night from hell the fire is now mostly under control, although isolated, uninhabited areas are still burning.
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