The family only just managed to escape. sur
Smiling, Silvana Pittin tries to control the crutches on which she has been walking since Friday. That night is one she will never forget, after the entire family miraculously escaped the fire that burned its way through six Malaga municipalities.
The 45 year old describes the house that Friday; the family was in the home they had moved into only weeks before in order to start a new life. Pittin, a painter, planned to open an art gallery on the Costa del Sol with her savings, while her oldest son would continue having violin classes, an instrument with which he has won several national prizes, but which was lost in the fire.
The family, whose house was only a few metres from the property owned by singer Julio Iglesias, knew that the fire was nearing the area where their home was located. However, Silvana’s husband, Tomas Hering, was told that the flames would not go towards their house and that they should relax. Silvana and Tomas sent their children to bed, but stayed awake themselves and packed their important belongings into suitcases to put in their cars, just in case they got evacuated. They received no warning though, despite the fact that Tomas had seen a police patrol car passing the house just an hour before they had had to abandon it.
With flames of “more than 20 metres in height” devouring the house, the family tried to escape the fire. They managed to climb through a small hole in the property’s fence, through which they had to push Silvana’s 78 year old mother. Once outside, the confusion meant the family was split up. Silvana took their two youngest children and ran towards the sea, while Tomas, his son and his mother-in-law headed towards Ojén, where they managed to find refuge. That was the last time the two halves of the family saw each other until the next day; until then, both sides thought the other family members had died. “It wasn’t one miracle, but several” insists Tomas.
Silvana, an experienced hiker, took her children towards the sea, carrying her three year old in her arms as she ran. When the path they were on came to an end, Silvana and her children had to climb down a rock face into a small cave; Silvana knew she had hurt her foot, but did not have time to think about it. Hiding in the cave, “I knew that we were going to die”, she says, but they promised themselves “if we get out of this alive, we have to let people know that no one came to evacuate us”.
They were eventually located by Manuel Rodríguez and Luis Muñoz, who were collaborating with the police due to their knowledge of the local area. They explain that when they arrived the mother and children were close to suffocation due to the smoke inhalation.
The family lost everything. The fire destroyed the savings, documents and projects that they had stored in the suitcases set aside to be evacuated.