WE take it for granted we are surrounded by some of the most stunning nature in Spain.

But the recent devastating fires in the Sierra Bermeja (Costa del Sol) proved just how fragile the environment really is.

We had survived summer without a major fire but then the monster that destroyed 10,000 hectares and cost the life of Carlos Martinez Haro, the firefighter from Almeria, erupted in the mountains behind Estepona.

The sheer scale was terrifying, and it is beyond comprehension that this devastating blaze could have been started intentionally.

Living in the campo, a wildfire is one of my biggest fears. Seeing the beautiful but foreboding dawn on the Thursday morning as the sun reflected off the smoke clouds was the indication of what’s to come.

Driving west I was stunned by the sheer size of the conflagration. It really did look like something from a disaster movie. On Sunday night I saw flames as I drove back up the Istan road, worried that they might be heading my way.

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As we know, in the early hours of Monday morning, by some miracle, it rained and helped the firefighters put out the blaze. My neighbour, a fireman in Marbella, said that they hadn’t seen anything like this before

The fire planes use my lake to scoop up water and I am used to seeing them on practise runs –  one at a time or occasionally in pairs if there’s a fire nearby. That week they came over five at a time, fast and low. I was locking the gate at the end of my driveway on Friday and looked up to see three planes speeding towards me. I sudden understood what the German sentries on the Dambuster raids must have felt. You cannot praise the bravery and sheer bloody skill of those pilots enough.

This weekend I got up early and, with dawn breaking, took a kayak out on the lake. I looked around – everything was green, tranquil and beautiful, and said a little prayer that this particular slice of paradise had been left alone.  Let’s hope the powers that be can learn something from the Sierra Bermeja fires so that  we never have to witness this destruction again.


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