At 4.30pm on Wednesday the 112 emergency service began to receive calls to say there was a fire and thick smoke in the area by the Velerín river mouth, near Estepona. It had broken out in an inhabited area, close to the woods.
People in the residential complexes of El Velerín and Dominion Beach, where there are about 200 homes, were evacuated as a precautionary measure. The flames came within four metres of the properties closest to the blaze, but none of them suffered interior damage, although smoke did get inside three of them. Nobody was injured.
The spokesperson for the local fire brigades, Álvaro Bautista, said later that the self-protection plan which had been drawn up by people living in the residential developments had proven effective and had reduced the impact of the fire.
“When they had to leave, people made sure their doors and windows were closed to stop the smoke getting in, and that also stopped the fire damaging the inside of their properties,” he said.
The Infoca organisation sent 16 firefighters, a specialist, an environmental officer and two helicopters (one for transport and the other to drop water over the area) to the scene. Other fire fighters came from Estepona, together with Guardia Civil, Local Police, National Police and Civil Protection officers.
The fire was under control by 7pm and the Infoca operatives withdrew, although the others remained. At 8.50pm the residents were told they could return to their homes.
It is not known exactly how much woodland was damaged by the fire, but reeds, pine trees and undergrowth were burned. At 9.10pm the fire was deemed to be completely extinguished, but fire fighters remained on the scene to monitor the situation and keep spraying the area with water.
Only the day before, the Junta de Andalucía had presented its campaign in Marbella for fire prevention in the urban-forest interface area.
The regional government’s delegate in Malaga, José Luis Ruiz Espejo, said that 60 per cent of fires which have occurred in the province so far this year have been in areas such as this, and the cause is usually negligence by agricultural workers when they are driving in woodland areas or clearing urban areas which are near woods.
So far there have been 115 fires, 62 of them in interface areas, where 362 hectares of land have been burned, and the remainder were forest fires which affected 210 hectares.