@PLAN_INFOCA Video: joaquín Tarín

Pujerra fire emergency level raised as flames spread at a speed of 30 metres per minute

The Junta de Andalucía has activated Level 2 of its Emergency and called for the army to be brought in. More than 60 people have been evacuated from properties in the Montemayor area of Benahavís

ENRIQUE MIRANDA / IGNACIO LILLO

On a day of high temperatures and winds in Malaga province, a forest fire was declared this Wednesday (8 June), in the municipality of Pujerra, in the Valle del Genal that runs south of Ronda.

The Junta de Andalucía raised its wildfire Emergency Plan to Level 2 soon after 8pm after activating Level 1 earlier on Wednesday afternoon. Some 17 firefighting aircraft were tackling the blaze in an area difficult to reach by land, while some 140 firefighters and other professionals were working on the ground.

The Junta de Andalucía also called for the army's military emergency unit (UME) to be brought in, as it was in the devastating fire that affected the area last year.

The specialist Infoca brigade first reported the fire at 3.30pm. The blaze caused alarm in the Ronda mountains and on the Costa del Sol as flames and smoke were visible from Marbella, Estepona and Benahavís.

By around six o'clock around 60 people had been evacuated from homes in the Montemayor residential area of Benahavís as a precautionary measure.

The Benahavís sports centre was opened up as a temporary shelter for those with no alternative accommodation.

The strong gusts of wind - of up to 40 km/h - hampered firefighting efforts and firefighters working on the ground reported that the flames were spreading at a rate of 30 metres per minute.

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According to the mayor of Pujerra, Francisco Macías, speaking earlier on Wednesday afternoon, the fire is affecting the Sierra Bermeja, the area devasted by fire last year.

"It's affected practically the area of the fire last summer," he said, adding that pine trees were among the vegetation burning in an area that is difficult to access and around ten to 12 kilometres from the village.

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Since 1 June Andalucía has entered a high level of alertness for the risk of fires due to high temperatures, and a series of restrictions are in place in the region including the banning of bonfires and barbecues, and the use of motor vehicles in forest areas.