Firefighters are still at the scene following a massive blaze at Laguna Village in Estepona.
Flames could be seen ripping through the much-loved retail park shopping complex on the Costa del Sol following a dramatic forest fire earlier today (Saturday, August 29).
The Junta de Andalucia has declared a Level 1 emergency at 3.20pm as fire services and helicopters raced to the blaze.
Thankfully no one was injured.
Plumes of thick black smoke for miles across the area as three helicopters, a fire truck and 30 firefighters tackled the inferno.
High winds and temperatures in the area are reportedly made the operation more difficult.
Local James Courtney said: “It began as a forest fire across the road but the wind was so strong that it spread across to the complex here.
“It’s awful but at least no one was hurt.”
Shopping and restaurant complex Laguna Village was left devastated by the flames and local business owners stared on in horror from the beach as they watched their livelihood burn to the ground.
Firefighters on site confirmed that that the fire was now contained and are hopeful that those with property in Laguna Village would be able to return to review the full extent of the damage tomorrow.
Shop worker Kate Ozog, 40, who manages three fashion stores within the complex, was at home when she heard the devastating news.
“All I was told was fire and my heart sank. I am stressed but there is nothing I can do.
“There is nothing left. The restaurants, the shops, everything is gone. They don’t exist. Twenty shops or something, all gone.
‘It’s been such a tough summer and now the fire. We can do nothing. We have to start from scratch.”
Kate is optimistic that despite the damage that the shopping centre will return stronger than ever.
“Next year will be better. We have clients from all over Europe and they love it here. The Laguna Village was super popular, so it’s a big loss.
“I am just so grateful everyone is ok.”
Luxury five star hotel Kempinski, located right beside Laguna Village, was forced to evacuate all 80 guests shortly after 3.20pm.
They have since been allowed to return to their rooms after the flames in the immediate vicinity were brought under control.
Guest Jesus Garcia, on holiday from Madrid with his family, told the Olive Press: “It was fully horrifying. We were very afraid. Obviously something like this is unexpected for all the guests.
“Currently it seems to be under control but we continue to be scared. Seeig there is a forest fire across the road is definitely something to be worried about.
“The fire is so very close. We need to take care.”
The hotel confirmed to Olive Press that the hotel sustained no damage and that there were no injuries in the fire. All the guests are back in the hotel and all the staff are confiden that the fire is contained and it is safe for guests to return.
According to INFOCA, the strong winds carried the flames across the A-7 motorway and to Laguna Village, a large complex comprising restaurants, bars, shops and the luxury Puro Beach pool club.
The Mayor, José M García Urbano, has stated that the perimeter of this fire is controlled.
He tweeted: “The fire has burned the Laguna Village shopping centre, affected the Kempinski hotel and forced the eviction of some 30 homes. There is no personal injury.”