THE blaze on Spain’s Costa del Sol threatens to be one of the largest wildfires in the zone for decades.
A total of 30 aircraft were joined by 300 firefighters and up to 100 other key employees on the ground in the hills above Estepona and Benahavis as the battle to extinguish the flames went into the third night.
A legion of seaplanes and helicopters were deployed in a continual cycle of scooping up sea water and dousing the flames.
“It’s one of the biggest deployments since 1993 and it’s still not under control,” British councillor Scott Marshall told the Olive Press on Friday afternoon.
The Benahavis expat politician explained that the town, in the hills above Marbella, was still ‘extremely worried’ about the situation.
“We are worried that the wind will change direction to Poniente this afternoon as it has been predicted, and start blowing the fire our way again,” he continued.
“We are just hoping the rain comes as soon as possible. It is meant to be Monday or Tuesday, which is probably already too late.”
The fire had been moving rapidly east towards Benahavis and the Marbella hills late Thursday night in strong Easterly (Poniente) winds.
But it changed late in the evening to the north, taking the fire back over the hills into the Genal Valley and the Serrania de Ronda.
The Olive Press took a series of dramatic photos of up to a dozen helicopters dropping water on the hills above the Selwo Wildlife Park.
“It is awful what has happened to the pines around Jubrique where the fire first started and Genalguacil,” continued Marshall.
“And it’s awful that it is still not under control, it’s a nightmare. A lot of the pines have gone, as well as in Sierra Bermeja, which is a very important protected nature reserve.
“It’s one of the worst fire in 40 years and ecologically it is awful. This was virgin countryside and it has gone right up into the hills.
“Those areas and the Genal Valley have been very very affected.”
He also paid tribute to the heroic firefighter, 44, from Almeria, who tragically died in the blaze.
“That poor hero. It is so sad for him and his family.”
Carlos Martinez Haro, from Roquetas de Mar, had two children, 9 and 6.
He was engulfed with flames as he fought the blaze.
A nerve centre set up near the top of the Sierra Bermeja has been manned round the clock with politicians including Junta deputy leader Juan Marin, and the mayors from Estepona and Benahavis.