It’s been a pretty traumatic couple of days here in southern Spain. As I’m sure you have read from my blog, it’s been a long, hot and extremely dry summer. A summer of difficulties in the vegetable garden, too, for everyone we know. (Talking to a friend today, he agreed that to obtain the same harvest as last summer, we have all had to plant double the seed) So with the cooler weather coming at last, we have been waiting in hope for the first rain.
Then came the disaster, the huge fire of the last couple of days. We first noticed it from Casa Tyr on Thursday night. We could see it clearly from our terrace, and Kenton took some dramatic photos. It looked absolutely huge – spreading from the Alhaurin area to what looked like all the way to the coast. The wind at that point was blowing the fire away from us, a blessing from our point of view, but not for others.
The fire response here is always fantastic. Fire planes and helicopters dip water out of the nearest water source (in this case, the ocean), and take it directly to the fire. During the night, of course, they can’t fly, so it was up to the brave firemen on the ground. The next morning, they believed it to be almost under control – then, disastrously, the wind changed direction and grew stronger. Suddenly, all bets were off. The fire veered away from Mijas, and towards Marbella. It dropped off near Ojen, and jumped the road into the Refugio de Juanar, a park full of rare pine and oak trees. More planes and helicopters were called in, as well as the army.
Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in passing messages, asking for help, getting updates. Animal refuges that were threatened by fire were cleared out by an army of volunteers, often taking silly, yet heroic, chances to save cats, dogs, and horses. (it has been rumoured that one man killed in the fire had been evacuated, but snuck back to save his animals)
There were many stories that cheered my heart. There have also been the opposite – those taking advantage of the tragedy to scam donation money, or to offer ‘help’ at a price.
The devastation is awesome. Whole areas of forest have been burned to the ground. I know fire is a cleansing thing for a forest, but not this way, not from arson. I think with a heavy heart of all the birds of prey with nests in that forest. All the small animals lost. All the terrified pets, who broke free and are still roaming through the campo. All the people who lost their homes, many who had dropped insurance because the harsh economic climate meant there was no fat in the budget for premiums.
So if you read this and feel you ‘d wish to do something, give to this (or your own) fire service. Or donate to help fire victims. You never know when it could be your turn.