Homeowners return as Spanish firefighters battle to control Costa del Sol blaze

Light rain brings some respite but authorities remain cautious

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Firefighters in Spain were on Monday afternoon still struggling to contain a deadly blaze in the southern Malaga province, even as light rain provided some respite.

About 2,600 people were forced from their homes by the fire, which began last Wednesday and may have been deliberately caused.

Some of those displaced have returned to their homes and there were more positive signs on Monday.

“The evolution over the past few hours shows hopeful signs but we have to remain prudent,” fire brigade chief Juan Sanchez said.

He warned the public that the “rain will not put out the fire”.

“But in places where we have it under control, it will help shorten the time to extinguish it completely,” he said.

Hundreds of firefighters and soldiers, backed by some 50 water-dropping planes, have been tackling the blaze in the Sierra Bermeja mountains, which has destroyed about 8,000 hectares of forest.

It broke out near the popular Costa del Sol resort town of Estepona.

A 44-year-old fireman died on Thursday, while two were injured after falling on Sunday.

“We have been talking for a long time about the consequences of rural area depopulation, climate change and other phenomena. Today we are experiencing them,” Mr Sanchez said.

Erratic winds, scorching temperatures and low humidity were blamed for turning the blaze into a “hungry monster”, the region's deputy fire chief Alejandro Garcia said last week.

Greece, Turkey and Cyprus are among the Mediterranean countries to have also suffered from devastating summer wildfires, which have been blamed on climate change.

Updated: September 13, 2021, 3:54 PM