A fire is affecting the La Resinera area, in Pujerra (west of the province of Malaga) from this Wednesday at noon. The fire has been declared level 1 at five in the afternoon due to the worsening of the situation. The difficult conditions of the terrain, the high temperatures and the strong off-shore wind that is blowing this Wednesday, together with the memory of the Sierra Bermeja fire in September, have triggered the alarms. There are three firefighters injured by burns, one of them transferred to the burn unit of the Regional Hospital of Malaga.
What is the pyrocumulus that is complicating the Sierra Bermeja fire
According to the official Twitter account of Emergencies of Andalusia, several evictions were carried out on Wednesday night. “The preventive and orderly eviction of the urban area of Benahavís is being carried out, which joins those already evicted from Urb. Montemayor, Benahavís Hill and Marbella Club,” they reported on the social network.
Six helicopters, two Super Pumas, two KAMOVs, two cargo planes on the ground, six fire engines and ten groups of forest firefighters and two amphibious planes displaced from the Torrejón base were soon deployed on the ground. The fire was declared at three in the afternoon, and shortly before nine, the Junta de Andalucía declared alert level 2 and has requested the Government of Spain to activate the Military Emergency Unit (UME), as explained from the command post, counselor Elías Bendodo, who stressed that the fire is “very complicated” due to weather and orographic conditions. 100 troops from the UME will arrive at the site, who will join the 100 from INFOCA and 50 from the Firefighters Consortium of the Malaga Provincial Council or the municipalities. The EMU will arrive tonight, as reported by the Chairman of the Board, Juanma Moreno.
The fire affects a place populated mainly by pine forests in the Genal Valley, very close to the Sierra Bermeja area where last September the fire destroyed some 10,000 hectares, mainly pine forests, in one of the worst fires in recent years. In Andalucia. At 3:30 p.m., INFOCA has reported the fire, which has just started the summer season (the IFOCA plan was activated on May 17) and in the worst possible conditions: a land that affects a large part of the province, and that in Pujerra it blows in gusts of 25 to 40 kilometers per hour, with temperatures above 30 degrees.
At a rally held in Torremolinos, President Juan Manuel Moreno was pessimistic: “It looks bad, really.” The first objective, Moreno has said, is to save lives, then material goods and forest mass. Then, he has been hopeful that the wind will be more humid when the night enters. “Let’s see if we’re lucky and it goes to Levante”.
Advance of 30 meters per minute
Carmen Casero, acting delegate of the Junta de Andalucía in Malaga, activated level 1 at 5:05 p.m. Level 1 is activated in those fires that can be controlled with the extinguishing means provided for in the Plan, it is foreseen by its possible evolution the need to implement measures for the protection of people and property.
By mid-afternoon, the fire was advancing 30 meters per minute and troops continued to add up: 125 people on the ground, six fire engines, and 17 aerial means. INFOCA predicts that the strong gusts of land will blow until ten at night. In the videos that come from the area, it can be seen that a pyrocumulus has already formed, a cloud of burning air and ashes caused by the intense heat on the surface.
The fire has already forced the eviction “out of prudence” of the Montemayor urbanization, with 60 evacuees, in the Benahavís district, and another two may be evicted in the next few hours depending on how the fire evolves and the weather conditions, Moreno said. . Whoever needs it will be relocated to the Benahavís sports center.
A fire with INFOCA agents protesting
Weather conditions are combined with a complicated orography, with sometimes inaccessible terrain, which makes extinction a complex task. INFOCA firefighters explained to elDiario.es Andalucía that the site is “complicated to access and bad”. The fire occurs when many of them have started a camp in Seville to protest the lack of stabilization of the workforce and the conditions in which they carry out their work. According to one of them, many Plan Infoca Centers and Forest Defense Centers (known as CEDEFOS) do not have helicopters until June 20, and many of the personnel do not even have PPE.
Forest firefighters have been demanding for years a labor stabilization that allows them to carry out a good preventive work during the rest of the year. It is also the great claim of experts and environmental organizations. “All the words of last year, after Sierra Bermeja, on deaf ears, in sight. The fires start earlier, with more virulence, the more abandoned mountains, more and more fuel in them, and we, more and more burned, more diminished, and less prepared”, laments a firefighter.
This afternoon they have issued a statement criticizing the lack of means and training: “We do not understand the mismanagement by management and administration.” “Keep the medals and honorable mentions, and give us our rights and stability, and you will see how we do our job, no need for pats on the back.”
Concern in the Andalusian Government
The Pujerra fire, visible from Marbella or Estepona, has put the Andalusian Government on guard, which has already been criticized by firefighters and experts for the late reaction in Sierra Bermeja. There is concern, and Elías Bendodo, counselor to the Presidency of the Andalusian Government, has left the electoral caravan of the Popular Party to go to the advanced command post. “It hurts that the fire affects Sierra Bermeja again. The priority now is to contain its advance and the media are already acting. Very pending ”, the president and candidate Juan Manuel Moreno has written on Twitter.
“The forecasts at this time [algo menos de las siete de la tarde] they are not good”, warned Bendodo, already from the command post, in Benahavís. “The firefighters have a little over two hours to prevent the night from being very complicated.” “His evolution is not favorable.”
La Resinera is a 6,500-hectare estate with a perimeter of 58 kilometers between Benahavís, Júzcar and Pujerra, with a high ecological value, also known because in its day it was owned by the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who intended to build a large luxury development there with golf course, a conference center and perhaps use it for his exile. After his fall, it ended up in the hands of the Libyan Foreign Investment Bank.
Francisco Macías, mayor of Pujerra, explains that the fire is 10 or 11 kilometers from the town, surrounded by an area of ”worked” chestnut trees, which would make it difficult to advance towards urbanized areas of the municipality. He would have reached the edge of the burned area in September and is instead advancing towards Benahavís. “The problem is in the mountains, because it is impossible to move forward,” explains the mayor. “The problem is that if it changes direction at night, it would go back and what little remains of the mountain range will be destroyed. We cross our fingers.”