The evacuation of residents in the centre of Benahavís. / S. SALAS

'I never thought we'd have to leave town so fast'

The precautionary evacuation took the entire village centre of Benahavís by surprise

I. QUIRANTE / J. DUEÑAS MALAGA.

Restaurant terraces were hurriedly closed and confusion reigned among locals as well as tourists enjoying a break in this pretty spot behind the Costa del Sol. The precautionary evacuation took Benahavís by surprise; the flames from the Pujerra fire were not visible from the streets, just the approaching column of smoke.

Guardia Civil officers went from house to house and business to business to advise everyone to leave. They informed them that they would be put up in a marquee in San Pedro Alcántara if they had no alternative accommodation.

"I went out with my friend and my chidlren at around 9 o'clock and, as a joke, I told my partner that I was goiing to get my phone charger just in case, but I didn't think they would get us out of town so fast," said Martina, as she waited with her family to get into one of the Uber cars the emergency services had organised.

Other families saw more tension, especially as older residents were reluctant to leave. Antonio, for example, refused to move, despite his granddaughters' pleas. In the end the Guardia Civil had to enter the property to convince the 82-year-old.

Montemayor

Earlier on Wednesday evening, vehicles were waiting at the gates to the Montemayor estate to pick up relatives and their belongings. The occupant of a nearby villa was nervously waving his arms around. "You can't park here," he shouted, concerned they were blocking his access, as he watch the Guardia Civil patrolling a neighbouring estate.

Montemayor is a private gated neighbourhood of luxury properties, many of them with international residents. Inside, a line of Teslas, BMWs, Ferraris, Mercedes and Porches moved in convoy towards the gates, following the instructions of the security guards. One of the residents got out of her car with her mother. "We've been living here a year," she said. "We're a bit scared."

"I've got to organise three cars with my family to leave the house," she told SUR.