Firefighting teams working in the area this Thursday. / JOSELE

Almost 1,000 workers drafted in to fight and manage the Pujerra forest fire

Some 500 specialist Infoca forest firefighters were joined on the ground by 233 members of Spain’s Military Emergency Unit (UME)

RAQUEL MERINO

A total of 946 people worked today on extinction, security and coordination tasks for the Pujerra forest fire that was declared at 3.04pm yesterday (Wednesday 8 June) in the Sierra Bermeja.

The fire started in the Paraje de la Resinera area and affects the municipalities of Pujerra, Júzcar and Benahavís, according to the Junta de Andalucía in a statement.

During the night, the drop in wind intensity and a rise in humidity helped the work of the firefighters, particularly on the left flank of the forest blaze and in the southern area, closest to where some 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

However, the lack of visibility made it difficult to access critical areas, as well hindering the movement of personnel and equipment in safe conditions, according to the Extinction Department of the regional government’s Plan Infoca.

Steep slopes and ravines

In the rest of the affected area, the steep slopes and ravines present have caused problems and little progress has been made. This was the case with the right flank and the northern part of the fire and this is where the work of aircraft was planned to be concentrated throughout the morning when the thermal inversion weather phenomenon, that prevented them from flying, ended said the Junta.

3,000 evacuated

In total, some 3,000 people have fled their homes. For those who were evacuated a facility was set up in San Pedro de Alcántara. The Red Cross deployed basic necessities, hygiene and food for 500 people, although only 37 stayed overnight at this point, the rest went to family homes and hotels. At the moment, the Extinction Department has said that the necessary safety and security conditions have not been met for them to return to their homes.

Road closed

On the roads, the A-7175 remained closed at kilometre 3, due to smoke and to facilitate the work of the emergency services.

A total of 500 forest firefighters, two environmental agents, together with 30 members of the Malaga Fire Brigade (from Mijas, Marbella and Fuengirola), 50 members of Guardia Civil, four National Police officers, six Local Police from Estepona, 16 health service workers, 19 from the Red Cross, 18 from 112 Andalucía, the Andalusian Emergency Group (GREA) and Civil Protection volunteers (from Benahavís, Torremolinos, Marbella, Mijas, Benalmádena, Estepona, Fuengirola, Ronda, Antequera, Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama).

During the early morning, Spain’s Military Emergency Unit (UME) was deployed, made up of 233 troops, 23 light vehicles and 58 heavy vehicles being available to work in different day and night shifts.