A firefighter was killed Thursday while fighting with his colleagues to control a forest fire in southern Spain, where about a thousand people were forced to flee their homes and a key road has been closed, authorities say.
The 44-year-old firefighter was among about 400 who mobilized to put out the fire The incident took place on Wednesday night on Mount Sierra Bermeha in the southern province of Malaga, Andalusian regional authorities said in a press release.
“You can imagine our pain and sorrow,” Carmen Crespo, a local Andalusian environmental official, told a news conference.
This fire is “dangerous – very dangerous”, he insisted, emphasizing the difficulty involved in the effort of members of the Spanish fire brigade to control it in inaccessible areas. Firefighters are supported by 29 firefighting aircraft.
According to local authorities, about 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes as a precaution, mainly in the municipality of Estepona, which is very popular among British retirees and tourists vacationing in Spain.
Speaking to Spanish public television TVE, several residents said they had only a few minutes to leave.
During the firefighting, the attempt to bring the fire under control is particularly difficult due to the fact that there are slopes with steep slopes and Strong winds are blowing, with gusts of up to 60 kilometers per hour.
“The winds have intensified but fortunately (…) they are blowing to the west, they have removed the fire from the residential areas,” the head of the fire department in Malaga, Manuel Marmolejo, told the media.
The local authorities consider that it is not ruled out that it was an arson, as the fire broke out in several places at the same time.
By the end of August, fires in Spain had charred 742,600 acres, more than the average of the last 10 years, but less than the 1,900,000 acres destroyed in 2012, the worst year in a decade.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the last decade recorded 7 of the 10 warmest years that Spain has ever experienced. Unusually large fires have broken out in various parts of the world this year, due to extremely high temperatures and drought – symptoms, according to scientists, of climate change.