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Huge Wildfire Reaches Marbella in Southern Spain.

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Huge Wildfire Reaches Marbella in Southern Spain.

Post  Panda on Fri 31 Aug - 16:28

31 August 2012 Last updated at 15:18
Huge wildfire reaches Marbella in southern Spain

The BBC's Tom Burridge says the authorities have not ruled out that the fires were started deliberately

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A huge wildfire is approaching the wealthy resort of Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol, where the authorities have evacuated thousands of people.

Flames reached the Elviria area on the edge of Marbella early on Friday.

One death was confirmed when the body of an elderly man was found near Ojen.

Evacuations were ordered from near Marbella, Ojen and a camp site at Alpujata. Some 300 British expats were among the evacuees, but the UK said they had now left evacuation centres.

The British Consulate in Malaga said they had either been relocated with friends or had gone back to their homes in Spain.

Marbella is famous for its up-market hotels and villas - it is a favourite haunt of wealthy foreigners.

"I woke up to the smell of smoke... we started running"

Overnight the fire spread rapidly through a 12km (eight-mile) coastal strip, not far from holiday resorts.

The dead man was found near a burned building he had returned to after being evacuated, officials said.

In addition to the fatality, two people have suffered serious burns and some homes have been engulfed by the fire.

Angel Nozal, the mayor of Mijas, a town between Marbella and Malaga, told El Pais newspaper: "The fire is horrific, with flames 10 to 15 metres high."

The Costa del Sol is one of Spain's most popular holiday destinations and home to a large British expatriate community.

The British embassy said it was working closely with the Spanish authorities and consular staff were deployed to assist those affected.

The embassy said two Britons were treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and were in a stable condition.

The Foreign Office has no reports so far of British residents' homes being damaged.

More than 250 firefighters are battling the fire, helped by 17 aircraft dropping water to douse it, El Pais said.

Much of Spain's countryside was left tinder-dry this summer by a prolonged heatwave. There have been major wildfires in northern Catalonia - near the Pyrenees - and on La Gomera, in the Canary Islands.

Kimberley Stone, a British woman on holiday with her family in the village of El Soto, said the fire approached rapidly on Thursday night, forcing them to flee their apartment.

"As we drove down the hill we went through burning embers that were everywhere," she told the BBC.

"Fires are not uncommon but I have never seen them on this scale before. The wildfire seemed to dip and then suddenly the wind picked up and we saw fire coming towards our apartment."

They drove to El Puerto, spending the night in the car.

Helicopters are helping some 250 firefighters battle the blaze
Residents of Ojen described panic as the flames forced them to flee without time to gather belongings. "We left just in our clothes, our nerves jangling," said Filomena Gomez.

Evacuees from Ojen are now staying in a sports hall in Marbella.

Gill Williams, a British resident of Monda near Marbella, said an evacuation siren had gone off in the village at 03:00 (01:00 GMT) on Friday.

"The wind has picked up and the fires are coming towards Monda. We are preparing to leave with our dogs, cats and four hens. There has been fantastic support on social media, with all us expats helping out," she told the BBC.

"There was a shelter for stray dogs and cats - there has been so much support that saved a lot of the animals."

The wind speed has dropped since Thursday and the air is more humid, so there are hopes that the Costa del Sol blaze can be contained soon.

The British embassy said it understood the fire was largely under control although an area of mainly uninhabited countryside was still burning.

The fire started on Thursday afternoon in the Sierra Negra area of Coin, near Malaga and has now affected an area of some 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres).

Part of the AP-7 highway was cut temporarily, but other roads are unaffected. It is not yet clear how many homes have been damaged or destroyed

As if Spain hasn't enough to cope with !!
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