11 Sep, 2012 @ 10:47
1 min read

Costa del Sol fire: ‘It felt like a Spielberg movie’

Fire in Coin Marbella Costa del Sol e

AS we drove with a camera crew up the Camino de Coin out of Fuengirola at around midnight on Friday I suddenly realised the full enormity attached to the glow in the distance.

In fact it was verging on ominous.

I’ve seen a few forest fires in my decades living in Spain, but nothing compared to the size of this one.

From a distance it felt like a Spielberg movie, like a giant meteorite had hit the ground destroying the landscape. As we got closer we knew you we were witnessing something close to a potential disaster zone.

We got as close as we could, witnessing the glow of the fire get bigger and bigger, and heard faint sounds of crackling wood.

Strangely, no one seemed to be remotely panicking.

There was no screaming or shouting, and orderly calm prevailed as people went about trying to get safely down the mountain; the smell of burnt wood choked the air and clung to our clothes.

A local farmer, clearly distressed and in shock wandered around his smallholding looking for his dogs. He told me how he kept some cattle and goats that were almost certainly dead. He looked deeply affected and traumatised.

The only noise came directly from aeroplanes and helicopters dropping sea water that evaporated 50 feet above the ground. Emergency services were in action and military helicopters buzzed overhead.

I witnessed the carnage in motion and the surreal nature of seeing a landscape destroyed in front of my eyes. Yet calmness from those fighting the fire; and above all resistance and collaboration from the local community certainly helped to save lives.

Homes were destroyed, possessions were gone but bravery was in the air. In many ways a miracle that only one person died.

The landscape will grow back, but will lessons be learnt?

keith spitalnik column
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