"We've lost everything, but we're lucky nobody died"



  • The Spanish and British communities in Mollina help the more than 70 people evacuated from the Lazy Days Pueblo Fiesta static caravan site where 40 homes were totally destroyed on Sunday

A woman waits impatiently for two workmen to open her safe, or what's left of it, a charred box. When they manage to open it, it's impossible to distinguish the majority of items inside, now reduced to ash.

She starts to cry while they put her belongings on the ground, with the hope of being able to salvage something from the catastrophe.

She is just one of the around 70 people evacuated on Monday night from the Lazy Days Pueblo Fiesta mobile home park in Mollina, where a devastating fire left more than 40 homes burned to a cinder.

After being forced out by the flames, those who had no family or friends to take them in spent the night in the Euro-Latin American Youth Centre, Ceulaj, also in Mollina, where they received numerous donations of food, clothes and other essentials from the local people.

"There are no words to describe what they've done for us," said Jim and Diane Wilson, who only bought one of the static vans on the site a couple of weeks ago.

"We arrived three days ago. Our house is okay, but, there's no water or electricity, so we can't go into our place," they explain.

Despite the devastation, they feel very "lucky". The important thing is that nobody died, they say, but point out that there some very elderly people affected.

"There's one man who is 92 years old, and he has nothing left, everything's just flat," says Diane.

The couple have been provided with the medication they need for themselves and their dog. "The Spanish people and the English community have been fantastic," says Jim.

The Lazy Days site, known locally as the "English campsite", is made up of prefabricated homes, the majority of them occupied by British nationals.

"A lot of us speak English and we are helping the people who can't communicate well [in Spanish]," says a worker at Ceulaj, who was joined by volunteers to organise a huge table of donations of all sorts of items from local people.

"We've brought personal hygiene items, such as sponges and shower gel," said one local woman.

In fact the list of products and objects made available to the evacuated residents, was so great that the town hall had to ask people to stop sending clothes.

"The response has been incredible, and now there are so many clothes, they don't need any more," said a local councillor, who added that a minibus had also been put at the disposal of the residents so they could go to the town.

After selecting what they need from the table the affected residents sit in a patio at Ceulaj to get some fresh air, many still in shock after Sunday's traumatic experience.

"It's terrible, we're devastated. There's nothing left," they explain.

The caravan site, just a few minutes away from the centre, was still giving off a strong smell of ash on Monday.

There Civil Protection volunteers inspect the area where the houses once stood with the owners, who have gone back to take photographs in order to claim for the damages and with the hope of being able to recover something among their belongings.

"We've lost everything," says Peter Thacker, who, with his wife, is taking photographs of the damage caused to his car and home, now totally burned.

"We've been living here for a year. We've lost all the important things," he explains as he searches for his glasses among the debris, along with a Civil Protection volunteer.

When he finds them, he opens the case to inspect them. There's nothing to recover; he throws them back into the charred rubble.