Smoke rises over mountains near the town of Jubrique in the province of Malaga. A devastating forest fire in southern Spain is under control after just six days. The flames that have been blazing since last Wednesday destroyed around 9700 hectares of forest not far from the coastal community of Estepona. Photo: Pedro Armestre / AP / dpa
The flames that had been blazing since last Wednesday destroyed around 9,700 hectares of forest at the foot of the Sierra Bermeja not far from the coastal community of Estepona, said the interior minister of the Andalusia region, Elías Bendodo, to journalists on Tuesday. That corresponds to the area of a good 13,000 football fields. The approximately 2,700 residents of eight evacuated villages and residential complexes are now about to return to their homes, said the politician. The authorities are now convinced that the forest fire was the work of arsonists.
Hundreds of members of the fire brigade, civil defense and the UME military emergency aid unit said goodbye to residents of the affected areas about 80 kilometers southwest of Malaga on Tuesday with enthusiastic applause and cheers, as the news agency “Europa Press” reported. At times, the flames had been fought by around 1,000 emergency services, who were supported by more than 50 helicopters and fire-fighting aircraft, among other things. According to the authorities, the rain that fell in the province of Málaga since Monday evening and on Tuesday was also important for the success in the fight against the flames.
The authorities in charge emphasized that the all-clear had been given, but some sources of fire still had to be completely extinguished. That is why around 200 firefighters and eight aircraft remained in action. A 44-year-old firefighter was killed in the extinguishing work on Thursday. Many helpers were injured.
Bendodo said that after initial investigations, it was believed that the fire was deliberately set by human hands. But the arsonists will be caught, “there is no doubt about that”. “These people have to be behind bars for a long time,” said the Andalusian minister. Regional President Juanma Moreno had previously emphasized: “There had not been such a forest fire in Andalusia and probably also in Spain for years.” He called for stricter laws against arsonists. There are more and more forest fires that are intentionally caused.