A wildfire continues to rage close to Spain’s southern coast, forcing hundreds to leave
The blaze has been ravaging a Malaga mountain range for six days and has destroyed
19,000 acres of land.
Almost 1,000 firefighters and soldiers have been tackling the ‘mega-fire with little
rain in sight.
Authorities have directly blamed the Sierra Bermeja fire on the effects of climate
change after a stifling heatwave hit the south of the country.
The problem has been compounded by the long-term abandonment of rural areas in
some Spanish regions, leading to poorer management of forests and the
accumulation of burnable material.
Juan Sanchez, director of the southern Andalusia region’s firefighting service, said on
Sunday: ‘We are facing the most complex fire known by the forestry extinction
services in recent years.
‘We have been talking a lot about the consequences of the abandonment of rural
areas and climate change. We are seeing them today.’
The scorched area has doubled since Saturday, when authorities said the flames were
contained within a perimeter of 25 miles.
Embers ignited another hot spot soon after, causing a new wildfire that eventually
joined the previous blaze and by Monday morning it had spread across 53 miles.
A 44-year-old firefighter died on Thursday and 19 more narrowly avoided serious
injury when a helicopter carrying emergency service workers got into difficulty
amidst the smoke.
Spain has experienced fewer fires so far this year than the average, but the number of
big forest fires — those affecting more than 1200 acres — was 19 in the first eight
months of 2021 compared to 14 on average for the same period since 2011.
It takes the total area of land burned this year to 186,000 acres as of September 5,
compared to an average of 71,000 hectares.
Elias Bedondo, the Andalusia region’s interior minister, said he had no doubt that the
wildfire in Sierra Bermeja was ‘unprecedented’ and that it will be studied for future