Colleagues of Carlos Martínez Haro, the forest firefighter who died battling the Sierra Bermeja wildfire in September last year, paid tribute to him on Friday at the place on the mountain where he lost his life.
He has posthumously received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal for Merit from the Protección Civil in February and the Gold Medal for Policing Merit from Estepona council, but none would have meant more than that paid to him by his colleagues.
There are plans to erect a statue to him on that spot in the near future, with a plaque reading “Tribute to Carlos Martínez Haro, who gave his life in the Sierra Bermeja fire, 9 September 2021”. He was 44, and the father of two young daughters.
Carlos was born in Barcelona but grew up in Escúllar in Almería. He was a farmer and had a smallholding, but had joined the Plan Infoca fire service six years previously. His colleagues remember him as someone who loved nature and the mountains.
He had been on standby at the Alhama Forest Defence Centre in Almeria last September when he was called in to help fight the fire in the Sierra Bermeja.
“He was waiting for a permanent position,” said Juan Carlos Martín, his group leader. Carlos only worked for Infoca during the summer, when the risk of forest fires is greatest.
“He was easygoing and used to say what he thought. We were all comfortable with him. We were like brothers. He was a good man and a good colleague. He was very motivated,” Martín said.
He died in the first-ever sixth generation fire in Malaga province, which burned for 46 days and devastated 10,000 hectares of land. The fire took his life. It will never, say his colleagues, take away his memory.