Six villages in Serranía de Ronda evacuated due to forest fire

by Deborah Cater
Fire in Hills Editorial credit: TImothy Knox / Shutterstock.com

ESTEPONA – The northwestern front of the major forest fire that has been raging since Wednesday evening now threatens four more villages in the Serranía de Ronda. The villages are between Ronda and Estepona on the Costa del Sol. They are in addition to the villages of Jubrique and Genalguacil. All residents have now been evacuated.

In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the inhabitants of Jubrique and Genalguacil were ordered to leave their homes as quickly as possible. On Sunday evening, the villages of Alpandeire, Júzcar (the former Smurf village), Pujerra and Faraján were added. The villages are all located in the area referred to as La Serranía de Ronda. It is a mountainous area between the famous gorge town of Ronda and the coast. The forest firefighting service was reinforced by the Spanish army on Sunday and is now focusing on protecting the homes.

While forest firefighting experts on Saturday hoped to bring the fire under control that day thanks to favourable weather conditions, they were surprised by a very unfavourable development. “This fire has a life of its own,” Infoca said early in the afternoon on Sunday.

The explanation for this lies in its convection capacity. In other words, to generate a vertical movement of the air; giving it its own internal currents that help it propel and propagate itself, regardless of the wind that is in the area at the time. The internal dynamics of this forest fire are considered sixth generation and category E. That is, the maximum level of severity from the Infoca plan.

Fire advancing to the northwest

On Saturday evening, a new fire started on the other side of an area that was already ashes from a previous forest fire. The sum of the two fires created a fire monster that is unstoppable advancing to the northwest. 

The strategy  now is for an army platoon to move to to prevent the fire from taking possession of each of the flame-besieged villages.

According to official data, the burned area now reaches 7,500 hectares with a circumference of 85 kilometres (from 41km on Sunday morning). The fact the fire is now developing to the northwest does mean that the front has stabilised in the south. Therefore, approximately 1,000 residents of Estepona and Benahavis can return to their homes.

The front in the north now also threatens the villages of Benalauría, Algatocín, Benarrabá and Benadalid. So far (Sunday evening) no people have been evacuated here.

Rain predicted

The Spanish weather institute Aemet predicts rain throughout Spain for the coming week. The first showers in the province of Málaga are expected in the second half of Monday. It remains to be seen whether they will reach the ravaged area. For Tuesday there is a very good chance the rain will help the firefighters with their heavy task.

Protected Species Threatened

The engulfing fire threatens not only people and homes but also the rich biodiversity in the area. The Sierra Bermeja and Valle del Genal (the latter is part of the Serranía de Ronda) are home to 14 species of invertebrates – many protected and threatened with extinction – that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. Despite the absence of an official and complete census, according to biologists and enthusiasts active in the area, there are three flocks of golden eagles, 20 eagle owls and about 300 Iberian ibex, roe deer and wild mountain cats. There are also special fish and reptiles. Among the reptiles here, the chameleons are special. Then there are nasal vipers and horseshoe snakes and many species of lizards.

To help both livestock and wild animals, 25 veterinarians from the vocational college have volunteered to help animals wherever possible. For help related to animals can now be called +34 630 809 923 and from Monday +34 952 391 790.

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