Firefighter dies as Málaga wildfire prompts evacuation of more than 900 people

The blaze in a mountain range of the province of Málaga broke out late on Wednesday and has since been fanned by winds of up to 50km/h

A wildfire tearing through a mountain range in Southern Spain has killed a firefighter and triggered the evacuation of nearly 1,000 residents, authorities have said.

The fire, which started on Wednesday morning, has forced 939 people to flee from Estepona- a resort town popular with British expats on the Costa del Sol- and and one in neighbouring Benahavis.

The region’s fire extinguishing service, Infoca, confirmed that a 44-year-old firefighter, who was part of a crew of nearly 300 working on the ground, died due to burns caused by the flames.

The regional fire extinguishing service said that the rugged terrain made quelling the flames difficult

Jose Gracia Urbano, the mayor of Estepona, told reporters that investigators were considering arson to be the cause of the the fire, which broke out late on Wednesday in a mountain range of the Malaga province.

“It’s very suspicious,” Urbano said, in comments given to Spain’s public broadcaster TVE.

The arson suspicions arise from the fact it started in two different places late in the evening as the wind was gusting up.

A helicopter makes a water drop over a wildfire in Estepona, Spain. Credit: AP

Smoke from the blaze has since led to the closure of some nine miles on the AP-7, a major motorway.

The regional fire extinguishing service said that the rugged terrain made quelling the flames difficult, with the blaze being fanned by strong winds with shifting directions.

“It has pronounced slopes and there is a strong west wind that is complicating the work,” Infoca said in a statement.

A forest firefighter works in a wildfire in Estepona, Spain Credit: AP Photo/Sergio Rodrigo

Spain’s Ministry for Ecological Transition added that, as of August 29, 186,000 acres of forest and bush areas in the country had burnt in 2021.

Environment Ministry data indicates that seven of the 10 hottest years on record in Spain occurred within the last decade.

In early August, ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reported on the fires which ravaged parts of Greece

At the beginning of August, swathes of Europe experienced intense heatwaves, including Greece where thousands of residents on the island of Evia desperately fled their homes as ferocious flames decimated vast tracts of pristine forest.

More than 20 countries in Europe and the Middle East responded to a request for resources, sending planes, helicopters, vehicles and manpower.