Spanish Wildfires: Man Killed, Thousands Flee

Thousands of people, including hundreds of Britons, have been evacuated after a huge wildfire reached the tourist hotspot of Marbella.

Some 4,000 people fled their homes after the forest fire raged near Malaga on Spain's southern Costa del Sol, authorities said.

Two people have been seriously injured and one man has died. The body of the elderly man was found near a charred house where he had apparently returned after being evacuated, according to a spokesman for the Andalusia regional government.

Several hundred Britons were evacuated, including 300 who have been relocated to evacuation centres in the La Cala de Mijas and Calahonda areas, said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

No British casualties were reported but consular staff have been deployed to visit evacuation centres.

The flames broke out on Thursday in the Sierra Negra mountains, later stretching up to 12 kilometres. Half a dozen municipal districts have been affected.

The blaze was fanned by strong winds and high temperatures, challenging 250 firefighters, eight planes and nine helicopters dumping water on the flames.

"A relative lack of humidity, strong winds and high temperatures in the afternoon helped the fire to grow quickly," said a statement by the area's regional government.

After dawn on Friday, winds had dropped and the air was humid, helping firefighters to get the flames under the control, the Andalucia government said.

"The fire may be stabilized in the next hours," it said.

Millions of tourists visit the southern coast every year and hundreds of thousands of expatriates live in the coastal belt stretching from Marbella east to the port city of Malaga.

UK Twitter user Paul Mort said: "Huge forest fire here in Malaga. Some of my friends had to be evacuated. Luckily for me, am on the beach. Everyone okay I think."

Matt Henderson in Marbella said: “Woke up to find the balcony covered in ashes, and learned that 350 firefighters are fighting a huge local fire."

Resident Georgia Toffolo said: "Have been evacuated from the villa because of a massive forrest fire! The one early night I try to have...Some poor bloke was running down our hill with a suitcase.

"This fire is absolutely horrendous - didn't realise quite how bad it is. The smoke is hideous and the flames. The army are here giving masks."

Spain has seen 1,500 square kilometres of land burnt in nearly 12,000 wildfires this year after suffering its driest winter in 70 years.