1000s back after Spanish resort fire

2012-09-01 15:55
Spain wildfires (AP)

Spain wildfires (AP)

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Madrid - Almost 4 000 people who fled a deadly forest fire in mountains near the glitzy Spanish resort of Marbella returned home on Saturday after the blaze was brought under control, local officials said.

An elderly British man perished in the fire and five people were injured when fast-moving flames and choking smoke engulfed mountains near the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.

"The roads were reopened at 10:00 (08:00 GMT) and all the people living around Ojen were able to return after being evacuated," a spokesperson for the Andalusia regional government told AFP.

The about 3 000 residents of Ojen had fled along with a number of people in several nearby villages.

Flames had lit up the night sky in the the early hours of Friday as a 12km line of fire glowed across the Sierra Negra mountains that overlook the Costa del Sol resort.

About 400 people - firefighters and emergency military personnel, backed by 16 planes and helicopters - had battled through the night to douse the inferno, which was fanned by warm, dry winds in southern Spain, officials said.

"The fire is practically stabilised," the spokesperson said, as the wind has dropped and the humidity has risen, but he added that the area would continue to be monitored for any resurgence of the blaze.

The charred body of a 78-year-old British man was found in the remains of a small rural home near Ojen, despite an evacuation order the previous night.

Another five people were taken to hospital, among them a Spanish couple with second- and third-degree burns over about two-thirds of their bodies.

Marbella's beaches and vibrant night life attract about 1.5 million foreign tourists a year, mostly Britons but also Nordic visitors and Germans, French, Italians, Dutch and Belgians.

Spain is at particularly high risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years, and blazes have broken out in various parts of the country in recent days.

Flames destroyed more than 153 000ha of land between January 1 and August 26, three times the amount during the same time last year and the highest amount in a decade, according to agriculture ministry figures.

- SAPA
Read more on:    spain  |  fires
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