Wildfires burning in the hills above the southern Spanish resort town of Estepona led to at least 600 people having to be evacuated from their homes on Thursday (September 9) morning.
The blaze, which started in the Sierra Bermeja mountain range on Wednesday evening, grew exponentially overnight, leading to mass evacuations throughout the Estepona area of the Costa del Sol, which is frequented by British tourists as well as locals and other vacationers.
A total of 29 planes and helicopters have been issued to work alongside 250 firefighters to extinguish the wildfires as quickly as possible.
14 km (9 miles) of one of Spain’s major coastal roads, the AP-7 motorway, was temporarily shut down due to dense smoke from the blaze, though the stretch of road was re-opened later on Thursday morning.
No injuries or deaths have been reported as a result of the wildfires.
“What a terrifying night. The fire came very close to us. We have been up all night ready to evacuate. It is very hard to take in,” Lars Christensen, 57, who runs the El Molino hotel in Estepona, told The Independent.
“The swimming pool is now black with ashes.”
The business man was forced to wake all of his guests and prepare them for possible evacuation.
“We are still waiting to see what happens as the fire is still very close. If they do not bring this under control by night then the planes cannot go up and it may get worse.”
Daria Dubinina posted on social media: “What an absolute nightmare night for everyone. Three forest fires in Estepona. Could not sleep all night. Too close to home. Strong smell of fire all night, red sun in the morning, ashes everywhere on the balcony.
“Can’t believe the level of neglect by some individuals which cause utter unimaginable damage to the environment, animals and people.”
The Forest Fire Investigation Brigade reported that the fire started at about 9:30pm on Wednesday in two different areas, prompting them to believe it may have been started intentionally.
“At the moment we have about 600 people who have been evacuated from their homes,” Carmen Crespo, agriculture minister for the Andalusian regional government, told reporters.
“The fire has burnt about 2,600 hectares. One building has been burnt but no-one has been injured.”
While wildfires aren’t uncommon in southern Europe during hot summer months, climate change scientists have warned that increasing global temperatures could prompt more severe blazes throughout the Iberian peninsula.
According to government date, 74,200 hectares (183,000 acres) of land has been destroyed by forest fires in Spain up to August 29 of this year.