MADRID (AP) — Strong winds have further complicated the battle against a wildfire that has torn through more than 3,600 hectares of forest land, prompting the evacuation of 1,000 people in southeastern Spain and leading to the death of a firefighter.
The military’s emergency brigade was on standby to intervene, as hundreds of firefighters worked through the night to clear out burnable material and open firewalls in the forest of a mountain range in the Malaga province, regional authorities said Friday. Arson is suspected.
Amphibian planes and helicopters resumed their work throwing water from the air at first light.
The fire broke out late on Wednesday, but flames were fanned on Thursday and overnight by winds of up to 50 kilometers per hour, at times with shifting directions, which made quelling the flames more difficult.
The Andalusia region’s emergency service said that 1,004 residents in Estepona, a resort town popular among expats and foreign vacationers, and three other municipalities closer to the fire were relocated to houses of relatives or makeshift accommodation in pavilions.
A 44-year-old firefighter perished Thursday while trying to extinguish the blaze.
Wildfires — some natural and others manmade — are common in southern Europe during the hot, dry summer months.
From the beginning of 2021 to Aug. 29, some 74,200 hectares (186,000 acres) of forest and bush areas had burned in the country, according to official data from Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition.