The scene from the A-397 Ronda - San Pedro road in the early hours of Thursday morning, 9 June / KARl smallman

Military called in to help fight major forest fire burning in the Sierra Bermeja

Some 162 soldiers are supporting the Junta’s Infoca specialist crews as high winds continue to whip up the flames this Thursday morning. Three firefighters have been reported injured, one seriously

The Sierra Bermeja, just a few kilometres inland from the Costa del Sol, is burning again in a forest fire that dangerously resembles the one that happened in September of last year.

The weather conditions, when the blaze started on Wednesdat afternoon (8 June), were the perfect storm with temperatures that reached 37 degrees in the area; wind gusts of 40 km/h and very low relative humidity.

Hell broke out around 3pm in the La Resinera area, a zone that is very difficult to access by land, near the Guadalmansa river, in the municipality of Pujerra.

Minutes later, the 112 emergency services telephone number answered the first of more than thirty calls from individuals reporting the sighting of a large column of smoke in a pine forest area between the municipalities of Pujerra, Benahavís, Estepona and Jubrique, in the Sierra Bermeja.

Witness

Salvador López Millán was one of the first witnesses who sounded the alarm. "I saw the fire first at one point and then at another and soon the third appeared, there was a lot of smoke coming from three different sources."

The acting delegate of the Junta in Malaga, Carmen Casero, declared level 1 of the Forest Fire Emergency Plan at 5.05pm. The fire soon claimed the first casualties. Three forest firefighters were injured, one of them serious, with burns to 25% of his body, for which he was transferred to the specialist burns unit of Malaga’s Regional Hospital. This was reported by the head of the Junta, Juanma Moreno, who visited the advanced command post.

Evacuation

The authorities ordered the preventive evacuation of the entire urban area of ​​Benahavís early in the evening, with an undetermined number of people affected - although the entire municipality has about 8,000 residents. The first to leave their homes were about 60 residents of the Montemayor residential development, who were taken to the municipal sports centre and then to San Pedro. To those residents of Marbella Club and Benahavís Hill were then added. The mayor of Júzcar, Francisco Lozano, reported that in this municipality a married couple living in the countryside has been evacuated and rehoused in a house in the town. Several residents of Pujerra have also had to abandon their country houses.

Plan Infoca hasdeployed 140 firefighters on the ground, 17 air assets, six fire trucks, a medical unit, a mobile unit for meteorology and transmissions and another for analysis and monitoring. The Ronda, Algatocín and Manilva crews from the Malaga Provincial Fire Brigade also joined the firefighting efforts. The Guardia Civil controlled access to the area, health services were on also on scene as were members of the Andalusian Emergency Group (GREA); as well as the Local Police and Civil Protection groups from Mijas, Estepona, Marbella and Benalmádena.