MORE than 400 people were evacuated from homes overnight as a wildfire blazed through the Sierra Bermeja in the hills above Estepona ravaging an area of enormous ecological value.
The AP-7 motorway, as well as local roads were closed as thick smoke engulfed the area.
Ten water-carrying aircraft from across the area flew in to tackle the flames to support the 200 firefighting personnel on the ground.
The wildfire broke out late Wednesday in the municipalities of Genalguacil and Jubrique in the Serranía de Ronda, in Malaga province, with emergency services receiving more than 140 calls starting at 9.37pm.
The fire spread overnight down towards the coast to the municipality of Estepona burning through a protected forested area of pines.
The area is of huge ecological value with the Natural Park Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja home to the pinsapo variety of pine trees, one of only four zones in Spain where they grow.
As a precaution residents were told to leave their homes in the Forest Hill area and parts of Las Abejeras.
The Infoca emergency plan was activated at 3.34am on Thursday morning and declared Level 1 on a scale that goes up to 3.
Estepona mayor, José María García Urbano, called for “caution” in the area. “We are keeping a close eye on the evolution of this fire,” he said.
The thick smoke cloud could be seen from across the Costa del Sol.