ESTEPONA – A new factor is making it difficult to put out the major forest fire ravaging the interior of the Costa del Sol since Wednesday evening. Once again, a fire cloud threatens two villages that have been evacuated as a precaution.
As a result of the ash rain, a new fire started on Sunday morning at 2:23 a.m. It is on the north side of the fire – an area where the fire was almost under control at that time. Here, burning particles have crossed an area that was burned to ashes by another fire in June and thus served as a firewall.
This new fire, much closer to the villages of Jubrique and Genalguacil, has already destroyed 25 hectares. It sparks a new front with what, according to Infoca’s director, Alejandro García, “unusual potency and strength for Spain” is moving into the Valle del Genal. The main risk area is now in the northwest of the fire.
‘This fire has a life of its own’
‘This fire has a life of its own,’ Infoca acknowledged early in the afternoon on Sunday. The explanation lies in its convection capacity: to generate a vertical movement of the air. This gives it its own internal currents that help it propel and propagate itself, regardless of the wind that is in the area at the time.
Evacuation of almost 2,000 people
That is why, the villages of Jubrique, Genalguacil, Faraján and Pujerra have been evacuated as a precaution. They have with respectively 523, 393, 287 and 330 inhabitants. Residents were told to vacate their homes at 5:35 a.m. Sunday morning. There is a good chance that burning material will fall from the fire cloud. Currently, the cloud, develops horizontally and threatens the villages.
With buses and special transport for people with reduced mobility, the evacuation went ‘according to 112’. A special team of aid workers, including psychologists, has been called in to assist the residents.
The inhabitants of the four villages now join the people evacuated since Thursday: 1,070 residents of the Forest Hill and Abejeras urbanisations (750 people), Peñas Blancas (37), Charca de la Extranjera (12), Huerta Padrón (60), Río Castor (5), Charca de las Nutrias (5), Río Velerín (65) and the area Quiñones (40) in Estepona. And with residents of Montemayor in Benahavís (80) and the Charco Azul zone (16) in Jubrique.
Assistance from National Military Emergency Unit (UME)
The President of Andalucia confirmed, according to SUR newspaper, the Junta has requested the assistance of the military emergency unit UME. This is to reinforce the current ground and air crews.
According to Infoca, the images from the command helicopter show the fire is moving over a difficult terrain; it is showing very ‘ruffled behaviour’. That is why 41 air resources are currently deployed to fight the flames. It is estimated that 6,000 hectares – mainly nature reserve – have been destroyed. The area now has a perimeter of 42 kilometres.
New fire cloud bigger than Friday’s
Experts fear this new pyrocumulus. Because the fire develops in a ravine with a tunnel effect on the wind, it can have a perimeter of up to 10 kilometres. That makes this fire cloud much larger than that of last Friday afternoon. Then, it prompted the earlier lockdown of the villages Genalguacil and Jubrique.
Residents fear more attention paid to coastal villas
The Málaga Hoy newspaper writes that residents of Genalguacil are outraged by the ‘lack of resources’ in their area. They are supported in this by their mayor Miguel Ángel Herrera. Many of them believe that ‘saving the houses on the coast’ has been given more priority voer their sources of income: fincas with vegetable gardens and fruit trees and the nature reserve. Of the 41 air resources, ‘only’ six circulate over their area.
They’ve had a bad night. Some stayed close to the firefighters to see for themselves how the fire would develop. A resident parked his donkey on the edge of the village. Assuming that the animal would rescue itself in the middle of the village if the fire got too close to it. Then there would still be enough time to flee.
A group of seven residents even went to a front on the outskirts of the village on their own initiative to extinguish the fire due to a lack of firefighters in that area. They had to go back when it literally got too hot under their feet.