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article imageFire in the Costa del Sol, Spain countryside continues to burn

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By Anne Sewell     Aug 31, 2012 in Environment
The brush fire, which started yesterday evening in the countryside of the province of Málaga, continues to burn this morning. More firefighters have been brought in to assist. (Photo update)
Digital Journal reported yesterday on a fire raging in the countryside inland from Mijas and Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Many people were evacuated from their homes as the fire spread.
The fire originated in Cerro Alaminos in Coín and due to strong winds, quickly spread towards Mijas, Alhaurín el Grande and Coín. Today reports are that the fire has reached as far as Marbella and the Sierra de Ojén.
In total, 20 linear kilometers were affected by the blaze, and at first estimation it seems that more than 600 hectares of land have been affected.
All fire crews in the Málaga province are now assisting in the fight against the spreading fire, and firefighters from Cádiz, Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla are also assisting. A military emergency unit will also be involved in the fight today.
According to the Provincial Environment Deputy, Manuel Marmolejo, "we are faced with the great fire of the summer." Marmolejo stated that the fire occurred in a wooded area and spread quickly to affect urban areas.
After midnight last night, the disaster was declared at emergency level 2. This morning, two amphibious aircraft and five helicopters are now involved in fighting the flames.
Two amphibious planes which have been fighting the fire.
Two amphibious planes which have been fighting the fire.
Mark Sewell
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Adverse weather conditions when the fire started, with strong, hot winds and high temperatures caused the blaze to travel that much faster.
At 20h13 last night, the proximity of the fire to the Barranco Blanco urbanization caused a level 1 emergency to be declared. Sixty homes were evacuated and fears are that some of these homes may have burned down.
In Coín, Operating Services Councilman, Cristóbal Ortega has said that, "most residents who have had to leave their homes have returned to their homes ... and some have relocated with relatives." The City Council has claimed that municipal facilities are available if necessary to accommodate evacuees, but at this moment do not appear to be necessary.
In the area where the fire started, near the Alaminos River, several groups of mainly young people, who were enjoying a swim in the river, had to move on urgently when the fire reached their area.
In the Barranco Blanco area, dozens of horses have escaped and are loose in the area, and approximately 140 dogs and 50 cats need to be evacuated urgently. The area has pine forests, shrubs and scrub land, and thus is being badly affected by the blaze.
In the Mijas area, there has been dire consequences to the natural environment and to residents of the areas of La Atalaya, Valde La Teja and Entrerrios, who were in the path of the blaze. Dozens of homes had to be evacuated with many people spending the night away from home. At least one person has lost their house in the fire.
View from a house in the La Atalaya area after the fire.
View from a house in the La Atalaya area after the fire.
Mark Sewell
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A young Danish man, Dentcho, who lives in the Río las Pasadas area in La Atalaya was evacuated by the local Mijas police about an hour after the fire started.
"I was in my house and at about 20h00 my neighbors warned me, because they saw a lot of smoke from the top of the mountain. A quarter of an hour later, the flames advanced until we could hear the crunch of the trees. Then, shortly thereafter, the police came to tell me I must leave. I grabbed my two dogs, got them into the car and now I don't know what to do," he said.
The spread of the blaze was so fast that two hours after it started, evacuations also began in Entrerrios, an area that was badly affected in a fire last year. Shortly afterwards, the Municipal Drug Rehabilitation Center, located on a hill surrounded by the blaze, also had to be evacuated, as well as a municipal hostel and numerous homes.
Members of the Drug Rehabilitation Center were taken to a hotel in the Mijas Hippodrome, residents of La Atalaya, Entrerrios, La Cala Resort and La Mairena were distributed in the sports centre in La Cala, as well as hostels in the town.
The Mijas Racecourse stables were available to a family who had to urgently move four horses.
Deputy Mayor of Mijas, Lourdes Burgos, was "devastated" by the tragedy and pointed out that the fire may have been "caused by a man's hand."
Being summer, with temperatures of more than 30 degrees and a wind from the west, makes matters worse, especially with the fire occurring at night when the airborne units cannot work. The Mayor says that the government team thinks the fire was cause by the hand of man, whether intentionally or not. "It is bleak," he added.
The mayor of Alhaurín el Grande, Juan Martin Serón, said that it "has not been necessary to enable any installations for the evacuees in the town, as most of them have been placed with relatives." He did however add that "some hotels in the municipality are ready and available if is necessary."
The seaside resort of Marbella was also affected by the flames, specifically in the La Mairena area. Provincial Council President, Elias Bendodo, is working with the mayors of the affected municipalities, as the extinction of the blaze continues.
Mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, reports that at 04h00, several houses were burned and two persons, one in a serious condition, had to be transferred to the Costa del Sol Hospital. The hospital is reportedly operating normally, but outside there is lot of smoke and ash. Soon after, the two wounded were moved to the burn unit at the Carlos Haya Hospital.
Málaga Hoy is reporting that up to 5,000 people have so far been affected by the blaze.
Some excellent images of the firefighters at work can be viewed here.
More images of the area between Coín and La Atalaya on Friday:
Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire.  The sky is still full of smoke.
Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire. The sky is still full of smoke.
Mark Sewell
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Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire.  The sky is still full of smoke.
Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire. The sky is still full of smoke.
Mark Sewell
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Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire.
Views of the La Atalaya area after the fire.
Mark Sewell
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