How a 63-year-old local helped firefighters in the Mijas fire

by Lorraine Williamson
63-year-old helped firefighters

MIJAS – Called the ‘sherpa’ of Alhaurín, the 63-year-old helped, and rescued a control unit of forest firefighters from Infoca. They had been cornered by the fire, during last week’s blaze in the Sierra de Mijas. 

Another nickname for Salvador Pérez is ‘Senderito’. This trail runner and resident of Alhaurín was the bright spot for the firefighters from the moment the fire started in the Sierra de Mijas last Friday. He knows ‘his’ Sierra like the back of his hand and was on standby from the start to help where he could. 

63-year-old helped firefighters find the safe way out

Doing nothing was not an option for him, “it’s my Sierra”, says the avid hiker in the MalagaHoy newspaper. At first, he was not allowed to enter the area, but eventually, he got there through the trails he has travelled every day for 12 years. 

On the condition that he acted in cooperation and according to the rules of the Infoca firefighters, he was allowed to help and remain as a volunteer. “I acted like a goat because I helped them find safe ways out,” says Pérez. 

Nearly 3,000 hectares destroyed

After more than three days in the mountains, the fire was contained, its perimeter surrounded and finally stabilised. Moreover, investigations on Thursday revealed that the fire was lit. More than 2,790 hectares of forest land were lost. 

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Senderito emphasises that more than 200 volunteers have risked their lives along with the firefighters. He also says he will not hesitate to keep looking for potentially incendiary smouldering ground to extinguish it. 

Why ‘Senderito’? 

After retiring at age 55, he started his career as a trail runner. He started training in the mountains and visits all corners of the Sierra de Mijas. However, he has to stay away from here for a while because it is dangerous to inhale the ashes. 

“The name Senderito comes from a fellow runner who was impressed with how quickly I was able to get down the mountain,” says the fire brigade guide. He has been training for many years and feels “younger” and with “more energy” than when he was 50, even though he just turned 63. 

Some recovery in two or three years 

“I will continue to train, although unfortunately not in the same area,” confirms Senderito. He believes that in two or three years, the burned area may have regenerated to a reasonable extent. “I hope I get time to see that again. Nobody enjoys these mountains as much as I do,” he adds sadly. 

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