A BUSINESSMAN from Bridgwater has told the Mercury how he was forced to evacuate tenants from his properties in southern Spain after a wildfire broke out in the area.

More than 5,000 people staying near the tourist destination of Marbella were evacuated after a fire started Thursday afternoon (August 30), spreading through a 12km coastal area near holiday spots.

Steve Margetts, who lived in Middlezoy and now runs estate agency Marlin Global in Spain, had to evacuate his long-term rental clients from his complex in Calahonda.

He said: “The fire service then used the top terrace to fight the fire as it was lapping up against the complex boundary. “I have friends on another complex in the same area who had it much worse, I just saw today scorch marks to the properties.

“The fire spread very quickly due to the extreme heat and warm winds that night. It progressed slightly inland and down the coast towards Marbella. The wind and fire changed directions many times.

“The emergency services were first class.”

Reports in the area suggested the fire started in the Mijas campo area behind Fuengirola.

Mr Margetts added: “At the time I was dining in Fuengirola with my partner, Tina Collins, also from Bridgwater. We could see the bright red night sky to the North West and plenty of smoke.

“It was impressive, if scary.”

Campo fires occur every year but not usually to such an extent. Mr Margetts said the last large fire was about ten years ago on the Costa del Sol.

The main fire is believed to have been contained but there are still small fires breaking out near La Cala de Mijas.

The British Consulate in Malaga said those evacuated have all now left the evacuation centre and are staying with friends or have returned to their homes.

Mr Margetts’ tenants left for a couple of nights to allow the smoke to calm, and the area is currently being cleared of ash.