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A wildfire in southern Spain has forced hundreds of British expats to leave their homes and find shelter in evacuation centres.

Strong winds have fanned the flames in the Costa Del Sol region, and Spanish authorities suspect the blaze was started deliberately.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said "several hundred" Britons have been evacuated from the popular tourist area, including around 300 who have relocated to shelters.

Some 4,000 people in total have left their homes as a result of the fire, which officials said was started early on Friday in the town of Coin.

The Foreign Office said there had been no reports of any injuries to British residents, nor any requests for urgent assistance.

Holidaymakers said the smoke has caused them to cough, and stopped them from sleeping. Tourist Sara Hesketh told the BBC: "We've all got coughs with all the smoke and stuff and we're all exhausted because none of us have had any sleep. We're just waiting now to go home, really."

An FCO spokesman said: "We are aware of the outbreak of a fire in the region surrounding Malaga. We have deployed consular staff to visit evacuation centres and they are providing assistance to British residents who have had to leave their homes. We estimate that several hundred Britons have been evacuated, including some 300 who have been relocated to evacuations centres in the La Cala de Mijas and Calahonda areas. We are working closely with the Spanish authorities who are handling the evacuation centres and communications with local residents."

Jose Luis Ruiz Espejo, a regional interior ministry official, said firefighters suspect arson and they hope to bring the blaze under control by the end of the day.


Nearly all residents Ojen, near Coin, were evacuated and given shelter in sports centres in the coastal resort of Marbella. Speaking on Cadena SER radio, Mr Ruiz Espejo said two people were injured, one seriously.

Spain has seen 580 square miles (1,500 sq km) of land burned in nearly 12,000 wildfires this year. The FCO said it would continue to update the travel advice on the Spain page of its website.

The Press Association, photo by greytop