ESTEPONA – The forest firefighting service Infoca has deployed three firefighting planes and seven helicopters to fight the fire that rages in the mountains of Estepona, Jubrique, and Genalguacil. 400 people have been evacuated.
These are residents of the higher urbanisations of Forest Hill and Abejeras on the outskirts of Estepona. They are located in the western part of the Costa del Sol. In addition, the roads MA-8301 and MA-8302 are closed to traffic. Part of the AP-7 between kilometres 157 to 171 in both directions also closed (but has since been reopened).
Strong and shifting winds
Firefighting operations were complicated by the strong and shifting winds that dominated the area overnight until after dawn, with gusts reaching 45 kilometres per hour.
The first fires were identified in Genalguacil and Jubrique, after which the fire developed towards Estepona. The mayor of the municipality, José María García Urbano, called for “caution” in the area through social networks. “We are very aware of the evolution of this fire,” he said.
Fire close to petrol station
One of the most complicated moments for the fire services came around 4 am. At this point, the flames approached a Repsol service station on the toll road (AP-7). They then continued, before reaching the urban area of Estepona.
The firefighting planes and helicopters took off from the Seville base as soon as it was light on Thursday morning. They flew over the affected area to mark the route to be followed by the rest of the fleet. At the moment, according to the newspaper SUR, there is no official calculation of the size of the fire in terms of dimensions.
Specialists have already reported the fire is “very important” and that the fire in Jubrique last June, which destroyed 400 hectares, remains “small” next door.
Level 1 activated
At 3:34 am on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the regional government activated level 1 of the Infoca forest fire emergency plan due to the size of the fire. Level 1 comes into effect when it is expected that measures to protect people and have them evacuated may be necessary.
More than 200 firefighters currently work in the area, including Infoca technicians and firefighting specialists. They have come from all over the region. To this must be added the troops of the provincial fire brigade (CPB), with seven fire trucks from the nearest fire stations.
It is a great commitment of manpower and resources for a very virulent and spectacular fire. The flames in the Sierra Bermeja can be seen from various places, such as Guacín, San Pedro, and Marbella. Moreover, in combination with the high winds, they are very frightening for local residents. It is lucky more people did not require to be evacuated.
There was also a fire on the north side of Marbella, but it has since been extinguished.