Marbella wildfire forces thousands including British tourists to evacuate
Thousands of people, including British tourists, were forced to flee a village on Spain’s Costa del Sol last night when a nearby bushfire raged.
The entire village of Benahavis, located in the hills about 10 miles north of Marbella, has been told to evacuate due to a rapidly spreading bushfire sparked by 25 mph winds.
Police closed the only road from Benahavis to the coast late Wednesday and drove around with loudspeakers ordering everyone from their homes and hotels with only their essential belongings.
British tourists are among 3,000 people evacuated so far, some of whom have been placed in emergency shelters in nearby San Pedro de Alcantara.
Three firefighters were injured as they tried to contain the ‘out of control’ fire, including one with burns to 25 percent of his body.
3,000 people – including British tourists – have been evacuated from Benahavis, north of Marbella, because of a wildfire in the hills
Dinners were ordered from restaurant terraces late Wednesday as all 3,000 residents and visitors to the city were ordered to go elsewhere
Police help an elderly man get out of his home as flames igniting acres of nearby forest engulf the small town
Spanish Civil Guard agents go house to house in Benahavis, telling people to evacuate
Civil Guard agents speak to people in the streets of Benahavis as the entire city is evacuated
Benahavis, a small village in the hills north of Marbella, has been ordered to evacuate due to an uncontrolled wildfire nearby
Many local residents had to sleep in their cars at night.
The forced evacuation is said to have hit Torre Tremores, the exclusive villa on the outskirts of Benahavis where Prime Minister Boris Johnson vacationed last year.
The military has been called in to help firefighters fight the blaze, which has already burned nearly 5,000 acres of land.
The fire is believed to have started on a 16-hectare estate that once belonged to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The estate, called La Resinera, was bought in 1995 by the Libyan Foreign Bank.
Gaddafi, who was imprisoned and killed by the opposition in October 2011 after the fall of Tripoli, had announced plans to build a golf course and nearly 2,000 homes there.
But the Spanish government froze its assets in the country and the real estate project in March 2011.
The wildfire remained ‘out of control’ this morning, although a predicted change in wind direction in the coming hours is expected to improve the situation.
Benahavis Town Hall tweeted late last night in English and Spanish: “The village is being evacuated. If there is anyone with mobility issues, call 999.
“Buses and taxis are available at the entrance of the village for those who need them.”
Elias Bendodo, an adviser to the president of the regional government of Andalusia, said this morning: ‘The main problem here is the evolution of the wildfire, which continues at a speed of about 100 feet per minute. That is indeed very fast.
Smoke rises from the hills above Marbella, seen from a firefighting plane fighting to stop the bushfire from spreading
Smoke fills the air as thousands of acres of forest are set ablaze by a fire burning north of Marbella, Spain, as a nearby town is evacuated
Beachgoers in Marbella, Spain, watch the sky as it fills with smoke from the forest fire
People walk out of Benahavis after being ordered to evacuate late Wednesday night
Women lead their dogs out of Benahavis town during Wednesday’s nighttime evacuation
“The other problem is access to the source of the fire.”
About 600 professionals are fighting the fire. Among them are more than 200 members of the UME military emergency unit, a branch of the Spanish armed forces.
Firefighting planes and helicopters have been put on standby but have so far been prevented from dealing with the flames due to a temperature reversal that has reduced visibility.
The Infoca fire department confirms: ‘At the moment there are areas where a temperature inversion makes it impossible for aerial platforms to work.
“A plane is going to the area to conduct a reconnaissance flight that will allow us to properly assess the situation.”
The blaze stems from a devastating bushfire that swept through the hills behind Estepona near San Pedro for six days last September.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes as a result of the wildfires in Sierra Bermeja.
Firefighter Carlos Martinez Haro, 44, a father of two young daughters, died fighting the flames.
Spanish firefighters set out to tackle a forest fire currently burning in Pujerra, north of Marbella
600 people are fighting the blaze, including soldiers and firefighters, which have burned 5,000 hectares so far