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Wildfire in Southern Spain forces 500 to flee

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By Reuters
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ESTEPONA, Spain – A wildfire has forced the evacuation of some 500 people from the southern Spanish resort of Estepona, local authorities said on Thursday.

The blaze started on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m., according to the emergency services, who received 140 calls. About 250 firefighters are operating to extinguish the fire, Andalusia’s regional government said in a statement.

“The geography of the area is difficult, with steep slopes, and the strong west wind is making the work harder,” the statement said.

Residents of the Abejeras, Forest Hills and Monte Mayor communities have been evacuated. A spokesperson for Andalusia’s civil defence said she was not aware of any more communities at risk. Several roads were closed because of the blaze.

Estepona, near Malaga, is popular with British retirees and holidaymakers.

As of late August, wildfires had ravaged 74,260 hectares in Spain, above the average of the last 10 years but still some way off the 190,000 hectares destroyed in 2012, the worst year in the past decade.

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

Unusually large wildfires have raged in various parts of the world this year, fuelled by extremely hot, dry conditions that experts say are symptomatic of climate change.