Spain–– A wildfire raging across the popular Costa del Sol has forced the evacuation of thousands of people, and killed one elderly man.
The blaze broke out Thursday evening and swept across the hills above a seven-mile stretch of coast even reaching the outskirts of the popular resort of Marbella.
By morning thousands had been evacuated from villas and hotels across the region as more than 600 firefighters helped by 17 fire-fighting aircraft battled to contain the flames.
At least a dozen villas were engulfed flames and two people were reported to have suffered serious burns as they attempted to flee the fires.
Later, one elderly man was reported killed. His identity was unknown.
“The body of a man of advanced age has been found,” said a spokesman for the Andalusia regional government. The body was near a charred house, where he had apparently returned after being evacuated, an official said.
Eye witnesses described seeing flames up to 50 feet high racing towards their homes.
Frank McGuinness, a retired doctor originally from Birmingham, living in Alhaurin el Grande watched the wildfire sweep towards his villa.
Flames were leaping high into the air, he said. It was raging along at a huge speed. Very spectacular and dramatic.
Now the sky is full of smoke completely blotting out the sun.
Terrified holidaymakers at hotels in several resorts were evacuated to safety overnight and sports halls, churches and public buildings along the coast were turned into temporary refugee centres.
The wildfire, which authorities believe may have been deliberately started, is thought to have originated in the hills near Coin around 7pm on Thursday and quickly spread, fanned by strong winds.
Resort towns including Mijas, Alhaurin el Grande and Ojen were threatened, thick plumes of black smoke were visible along the coast and ash fell as far as 20 miles from the fires themselves.
Jose Luis Ruiz Espejo, a spokesman from the regional government of Andalusia said the fire was raging on four fronts, some several miles long and was advancing rapidly.
Angel Nozal, the mayor of Mijas, said: The fire is terrifying, with flames of up to 15m (50ft). I’ve already seen some houses between Alhaurin and Mijas burned.
Parts of the A7, the main motorway linking resorts across the south coast was closed to traffic
Johnny Gates, an expat Marbella resident described it as the worst night in history on the Costa del Sol. All I can smell is smoke, he tweeted.
Spain has suffered its worst summer in more than a decade with wildfires destroying huge swathes of the countryside in a heatwave following one of the direst winters on record. Almost 600 square miles of forest have been destroyed in 22 major fires.
When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWithin 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWhen the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Within 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles. “For the first time we were able to measure these warming effects minute-by-minute as the fire progressed,” said CIRES scientist Dan Lack, lead author of the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers also were able to record a phenomenon called the “lensing effect,” in which oils from the fire coat the soot particles and create a lens that focuses more light onto the particles. This can change the “radiative balance” in an area, sometimes leading to greater warming of the air and cooling of the surface. While scientists had previously predicted such an effect and demonstrated it in laboratory experiments, the Boulder researchers were one of the first to directly measure the effect during an actual wildfire. Lack and his colleagues found that lensing increased the warming effect of soot by 50 to 70 percent. “When the fire erupted on Labor Day, so many researchers came in to work to turn on instruments and start sampling that we practically had traffic jams on the road into the lab,” Lack said. “I think we all realized that although this was an unfortunate event, it might be the best opportunity to collect some unique data. It turned out to be the best dataset, perfectly suited to the new instrument we had developed.” The instrument called a spectrophotometer can capture exquisite detail about all particles in the air, including characteristics that might affect the smoke particles’ tendency to absorb sunlight and warm their surroundings. While researchers know that overall, wildfire smoke can cause this lensing effect, the details have been difficult to quantify, in part because of sparse observations of particles from real-world fires. Once the researchers began studying the data they collected during the fire, it became obvious that the soot from the wildfire was different in several key ways from soot produced by other sourcesdiesel engines, for example. “When vegetation burns, it is not as efficient as a diesel engine, and that means some of the burning vegetation ends up as oils,” Lack said. In the smoke plume, the oils coated the soot particles and that microscopic sheen acted like a magnifying glass, focusing more light onto the soot particles and magnifying the warming of the surrounding air. The researchers also discovered that the oils coating the soot were brown, and that dark coloration allowed further absorption of light, and therefore further warming the atmosphere around the smoke plume. The additional warming effects mean greater heating of the atmosphere enveloped in dark smoke from a wildfire, and understanding that heating effect is important for understanding climate change, Lack said. The extra heating also can affect cloud formation, air turbulence, winds and even rainfall. The discovery was made possible by state-of-the-art instruments developed by CIRES, NOAA and other scientists, Lack said. The instruments can capture fine-scale details about particles sent airborne by the fire, including their composition, shape, size, color and ability to absorb and reflect sunlight of various wavelengths. “With such well-directed measurements, we can look at the warming effects of soot, the magnifying coating and the brown oils and see a much clearer, yet still smoky picture of the effect of forest fires on climate,” Lack said. CIRES is a cooperative institute of CU-Boulder and NOAA.