ONE British expat resident in Benahavis refuses to leave her home, defying orders to evacuate by authorities fearful of the risk from a wildfire raging in the hills above Estepona and Marbella.
Michelle Hadden-Deering, 52 and originally from The Wirrall, is understood to be among a handful of residents who won’t leave an area of Benahavis that authorities have identified as at risk from the blaze.
She has chosen to stay in her home of ten years with her two dogs, Sol and Luna, after struggling to reach them in the hours after the blaze broke out.
The hairdresser had been working in Duquesa, a resort town a short drive along the coast and was driving home when she saw the smoke filled sky and lines of people driving away from the town.
The evacuation had already begun, but for Michelle, the priority was to make it home to her beloved pets and the supplies of insulin she needs to take daily as a diabetic.
Instead of driving to safety at the coast, she abandoned her car after being told by police she couldn’t go any closer and made it up the hill to her home by a taxi travelling there to collect evacuees.
Once reunited with her two boxers, she now refuses to leave.
“How long has this village been here? I don’t think it’s ever been engulfed in a forest fire,” Michelle said, comparing it the huge blaze that swept across the Sierra Bermeja last September destroying some 8,600 hectares and claiming the life on one firefighter.
“We didn’t evacuate then and I don’t see why we should do so now,” she said stubbornly when the Olive Press contacted her by phone.
But she admitted that the air was much smokier this time than it had been during the previous wildfire.
“I could even feel the smoke in my lungs during the night,” she admitted.
Alone in what now appears as a ghost town with the roads leading up cordoned off and guarded by police, Michelle is confident she made the right decision, despite the Benahavis mayor insisting people remain away for another night.
“From here it looks like the fire is calming down and the blue skies have returned,” she said.