Access to Marbella's La Bajadilla fishing harbour was closed on Thursday as firefighters continued to damp down the area where the warehouse that was devoured by flames the night before once stood.
The blaze, which local mayor Ángeles Muñoz said could have been caused by a spark, was first reported at around 7.30pm on Wednesday. Witnesses described a dramatic blaze that quickly spread alarm across the fishing harbour and marina located near the Marbella arch.
Passers-by and locals watched in amazement as the voracious flames devoured the warehouse where the firm Marina Marbella stored around 80 recreational boats and 15 jet-skis.
Around thirty firefighting personnel, forest fire brigade engines, two tanker vehicles from the town's cleaning department, health services and a dozen Potección Civil volunteers tackled the blaze which spread extremely quickly due to the materials and the fuel stored inside the building.
"The fire began at the south end of the warehouse, where the workshops are and spread northwards. We attacked it with all the vehicles we had available; the structure collapsed and so we fought it from outside," said Medardo Tudela the local fire chief.
No one was hurt in the fire except for one firefighter who was hit by a hose, but continued working, despite a cut to the head that needed two stitches.
"Several panels from the façade fell on us, but we kept at a safe distance," said the fire chief.
The northeasterly wind favoured the firefighting efforts, after initial concerns that the flames could spread to the boats moored just a few metres away.
"The rapid intervention of our fire brigade has meant that, although the fire was virulent, it was contained inside the warehouse," said the mayor, Ángeles Muñoz.
By around 9pm on Wednesday the fire had been brought under control. Throughout the night three fire engines remained in the area and continued to douse the destroyed warehouse until the fire was completely distinguished.
From first thing on Thursday morning, curious onlookers approached the harbour to look at the scorched remains of the building which contained, according to the information provided by local councillor José Eduardo Díaz, around 80 recreational boats and 15 jet skis.
Concern was clear on the faces of many of the people who approached La Bajadilla.
Among them was Luis Fuentes, who had gone to see whether his boats had been stored in the affected warehouse or in the other one which, just a few metres away, had remained intact with another 400 boats inside. In his case Luis, the manager of Fanautic Club which has around a hundred members, found that his four yachts had not been damaged. Many agreed that luck had been on their side on Wednesday as the fire could have caused much more damage.
Manuel Haro is the head of the local guild of fishermen, whose boats are moored not far from the scene of the fire.
"We have an amazing fire brigade in Marbella," he said. "Last night fishermen were crying because they thought they had lost their boats," he said, referring to the initial moments of tension, when the flames seemed unstoppable due to the large quantity of flammable materials.
"A hundred per cent of the fleet has gone out to fish today with no problem," he added. The fishing fleet based at La Bajadilla consists of 50 vessels of different types. Maro did point out that between 500 and 600 octopus nets had been lost as well as other pieces of equipment, but that this was "insignificant compared with what could have happened".
The mayor stressed the concerns of the owners of Marina Marbella to prevent any type of injury.
"They were even able to untie and save the dog that guards the warehouse," said Muñoz.
As well as the lost vessels, the fire also damaged three cars, one of which was crushed by a falling piece of the wall of the warehouse when it collapsed.
The total value of the damage suffered by Marina Marbella is not yet known.