SPAIN’S army has been called in to battle the wildfire that broke out in the Sierra Bermeja above Estepona after it suddenly doubled in size on Sunday.
Up to 300 soldiers from UME have been drafted to fight the blaze which on Monday raged into the sixth day and has now devastated over 7,500 hectares of woodland and forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people from their homes.
There are now over 1,000 firefighters and 51 aircraft fighting the fire after the fire radius almost doubled in size during Sunday with strong winds of 50km/h fanning its flames.
Two firefighters were injured on Sunday after becoming trapped by flames as the blaze continued to rage out of control.
Last week the blaze claimed the life of firefighter Carlos Martinez Haro, 44, a father of two young daughters from Almeria.
These conditions have prompted Spain’s Military emergency unit (UME) to be sent in after the fire was classified as a ‘Category E’ which is the highest on Infoca’s scale.
Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) classified the Sierra Bermeja wildfire as a ‘sixth-generation fire’ because it is challenging to contain and very volatile.
UME announced that 260 soldiers had joined the firefighting unit of ‘almost 1000’ who are still working on containing this ‘complex fire’ along with the help of 51 aircraft and twenty-five vehicles.
Fire brigades from Toledo, Cáceres and Cuenca as well as Forest Fires Assessment and Advisory Team (FAST) units from Catalunya and the Valencia regions have been sent in to provide further support.
Some 3000 people have already been evacuated from their homes – from seven villages – due to smoke and risk of ‘fire rain’ from the wildfires.
Residents within the municipalities of Genalguacil, Alpandeire, Jubrique, Faraján, Júzcar, and Pujerra were given refuge at a sports centre in Ronda on Sunday.
Certain areas of Estepona, Casares and Benahavís have also been evacuated.
Many local hotels and holiday apartments have offered to provide beds and other services to evacuees and firefighters, with over 600 rooms being made available so far.
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