Spain forest fire forces 2,000 from homes

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Around 2,000 people were evacuated overnight as a fire raged through a forested area of southern Spain in an area badly hit by wildfires just nine months ago, rescuers said Thursday.

The blaze began on Wednesday afternoon in the mountainous Sierra Bermeja area, which lies inland from the resort of Estepona.

The region is bracing for a heatwave that is expected to push temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coming days.

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“Almost 1,000 people” had been drafted in to help efforts to fight the fire and ensure security in the Pujerra area, the 112 emergency services in the southern Andalusia region said on Twitter.

Of that number, around 500 were forest firefighters.

Efforts to control the blaze were proving “complicated” due to strong winds, “a lack of visibility” and “difficulty in accessing” the steep and mountainous area.

“In total, around 2,000 people have been evacuated,” the emergency services said.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, Andalusia’s regional leader Juanma Moreno said three forest firefighters had been injured during efforts to contain the blaze, one of whom suffered “25 percent burns” and was taken to the burns unit at Malaga hospital.

“A difficult night in Sierra Bermeja,” wrote Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Twitter, thanking rescuers and firefighters for their work and expressing “solidarity with those residents affected” by the blaze.

Last September, a huge wildfire raged for seven days in the Sierra Bermeja area, killing a firefighter and forcing 2,600 people from their homes as it burned through some 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of land.

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