The Spanish government has declared that areas affected by major fires in 15 regions of Spain will be classified as disaster zones. The only exceptions are the regions of Cantabria and Asturias. In Malaga province, it includes the wildfires that began in Mijas on 15 and 26 July.
Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said at a press conference following the Cabinet meeting this Tuesday, 23 August, that 120 wildfires in recent months have caused the deaths of three people and forced 27,500 people to leave their homes.
“These fires have had different characteristics to the ones we have known before, due to climate change and the high temperatures we have been experiencing,” Rodríguez said. She explained that over 200,000 hectares of land have been devastated this year, compared with 50,000 last year.
The mayor of Mijas, Josele González, said he was “satisfied” that the municipality is being classified as a disaster zone and he called on “all the administrations to put a reforestation and conservation plan into effect as soon as possible for the Sierra Mijas-Alpujata", which was so badly affected by the flames in the recent wildfires.
The first of those burned for 20 days and destroyed 1,875 hectares of land in Mijas, Alhaurín de la Torre and Alhaurín el Grande. More than 3,000 people were evacuated for safety reasons.
The second wildfire was extinguished within three days, but it had already affected 116 hectares and residents of several urbanisations had to be evacuated because the flames were so close to their homes.
When an area is declared a disaster zone, it means residents who are affected can benefit from financial assistance from the government, for example for damage or total destruction to homes and contents, or to farms and crops. Some tax and Social Security benefits are also available in certain cases. The councils also receive financial support for the necessary work they have to carry out after a wildfire.