Expats still awaiting compensation two years after horror Mijas fire

LAST UPDATED: 9 Feb, 2015 @ 12:08
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Expats still awaiting compensation two years after horror Mijas fire

By Imogen Calderwood

DOZENS of victims of the horror fire that razed large parts of Mijas and Marbella in August 2012 have still not received compensation.

While many trees have regrown and the area is returning to health, the victims – many of them expats – have not received a penny in compensation.

Despite being promised €14,500 ‘emergency payments’ from the Junta, the vast majority of families have received nothing.

They are living in ‘limbo’ and unable to move on.

British expat Sharron Cromwell, who lived in Spain for 13 years until being forced to return to the UK last year, told the Olive Press: “I have lost everything… And have received no help despite paying my taxes in Spain for well over a decade.”

She had been one of over 4,000 people who were evacuated when the horrific blaze had spread rapidly from the Cerro Alaminos area, near Coin, to cross four town boundaries on August 30.

Aided by strong winds, high temperatures and Spain’s driest winter in 70 years, it led to the severe damage of 224 homes, and more than 8,200 hectares of land.

It took more than 600 firefighters and 28 planes and helicopters three days to extinguish the blaze.

The clean up, supported by the Olive Press, saw thousands of expats donate food and clothes to those who lost homes.

An Olive Press campaign to support the victims’ demands to get help and compensation clearly hasn’t helped.

mijas fire Sharron Cromwell CMYK
Sharron Cromwell

Cromwell, originally from Lancashire, sold two bars in Fuengirola to buy her dream house and land in Mijas.

“I put everything into that house but the fire took it from me,” Cromwell, 47, told the Olive Press.

“I went back the next morning after spending the night in my car to find my house burnt to the ground.

“Since then we have tried everything to get help. We went to the Junta and to Mijas. We asked for help from social security but they said they could not help homeless people.

“We went to the Guardia Civil and filled out forms detailing all we had lost.”

Yet after two years of waiting there has been no contact from anyone.

“I put so much into Spain, I paid my taxes for 13 years and my social security. I wasn’t trying to scrounge and yet it seems to me they are not helping or giving anything back.”

“I just want to know why they promised to help us but then gave nothing.”

Pat Laing, originally from Manchester, who helped launch the Olive Press campaign after her Mijas home was damaged in the fire said: “Many of us are still living in limbo, renting apartments or staying with friends.”

The Facebook group Victimas del Incendio is still leading an Andalucia-wide movement to get the Junta to change a 2011 law which is preventing homeowners from starting to rebuild.

Meanwhile Mijas Town Hall has confirmed that it was the Junta that made the promise of compensation, and it is the responsibility of the Junta to pay it now.

The Junta was unavailable for comment.

14 COMMENTS

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  1. Is this really a surprise? There was a earthquake in Lorca the year before this fire and the victims there are still waiting for some form of compensation/help (in spite of all the promises at the time). There’s not cash. It’s all in some PPolitico’s Swiss bank account…

  2. Has anyone thought about contacting the European Union with their complaint/demand?

    Reading George Orwell’s intents here just now does not augur well for British expats in Spain and elsewhere.
    Those that have gone back to UK might as well be heaving a huge sigh of relief and thinking that everything happens for a reason, or that every cloud has a silver lining.

    Best of British Luck to all.

  3. The Junta de Andalucia pay compensation, they’re having a laugh. They still haven’t paid the Priors any compensation after illegally demolishing their house 6 years ago so these poor people have very little chance of getting anything out of them. Of course the Junta would have had adequate funds (sent by the EU) in place for just this type of situation but as we all know, millions of Euros “disappeared”.

    Exactly what will it take to get rid of these despots at the Junta? How low do they have to go and how many more human rights do they have to violate before somebody somewhere wakes up and realises what is going on? Why do they continue to go relatively unchallenged while Andalucia sinks further into the mire with no light at the end of the tunnel?

    Well done OP for supporting these people, I sincerely hope they get justice.

  4. Refill, this is not just about the Junta de Andalucia refusing to pay compensation. As stated in the article, the Junta are refusing to allow people to rebuild their houses i.e. they will not change a law they created in 2011.

    Perhaps they see this as yet another way of demolishing rural properties without having to employ the services of a bulldozer.

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