The Sierra Bermeja fire, that is still burning out of control as it enters a fifth day, is an extraordinary sixth-generation, category E blaze - the highest level in the Infoca classification of forest fires - and it will likely be studied in the firefighting manuals in years to come, and by students of meteorology.
"It is probably the most complex fire that we have known in Spain in recent years", said the director of Infoca, Juan Sánchez, whose are crews still working to control and extinguish it.
During the first two days of the blaze the winds carried it south from Genalguacil – where it originated in two different points on Wednesday night, which suggests that it was intentional– down towards Estepona pushed by the terral. But then the wind direction changed. It did a U-turn and was pushed northwards, with some intensity – particularly on Sunday.
At the weekend a member of the Infoca command team said, "This fire has a life of its own."
In the four days that it has been devastating the Sierra Bermeja, it has formed at least three pyrocumuli, towering clouds of smoke and ash that are potentially ‘explosive’ and could result in fire to rain down on the affected area, which, in addition to endangering the population, would allow it to spread.
On Sunday, the fire once again showed its extraordinary character, when burning embers ‘jumped’ a firebreak generate a new fire, causing it to spread in two directions: towards the north and west.