Wildfire under control near Spain's Marbella

  • World
  • Saturday, 01 Sep 2012

Firefighter try to extinguish a fire in a forest on the road between Marbella and Monda in Ojen, near Malaga, southern Spain August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

MADRID (Reuters) - Firefighters tamed a wildfire on Saturday that had threatened villages north of the upmarket beach resort of Marbella in Spain's southern Costa del Sol, allowing about 4,000 people who had been evacuated to return to their homes and hotels.

Emergency officials said one man was killed by the fire but his age and nationality could not be confirmed. He had originally been identified as a British citizen.

More than 400 firefighters and members of the armed forces fought the flames overnight, using eight helicopters and aeroplanes to help drench the flames when they approached towns and villages north of the coast.

Officials said it was the worst fire in memory in the coast province of Malaga, part of the Andalucia region.

Places threatened by the flames included Ojen, a village of white buildings perched on a mountainside where most of the evacuees lived.

Officials reopened the highway between Marbella and Ojen on Saturday morning and were allowing evacuees to return to their homes, a spokeswoman for the Andalucia regional government said.

The fire broke out on Thursday evening in the hills above the tourist mecca of Marbella and raced south and west through hilly, tinder-dry countryside, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

Every year millions of tourists visit the Costa del Sol, famed for its beaches and nightlife. Hundreds of thousands of expatriates from northern Europe live on the coastal belt.

Unusually dry weather in Spain has resulted in wildfires burning thousands of hectares of land this summer, and temperatures have hit record highs in some regions.

Thousands of people were evacuated because of wildfires earlier this month in the Canary Islands, and four people died in fires in the border area between France and Catalonia, in northeast Spain, in July.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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