ESTEPONA, Spain - Two more Andalusian towns were evacuated on Sunday morning as Spain sent in military backup to tackle a wildfire that continued to rage close to a popular Costa del Sol resort.
Fanned by strong winds and high late-summer temperatures, the flames have driven over 1,000 people from their homes and killed one emergency worker since they erupted on Wednesday in the mountainous Sierra Bermeja above Estepona, a Mediterranean resort favored by British tourists and retirees.
"We will work in coordination and without rest in the face of the fire that is devastating the province of Malaga," said prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Twitter. He announced the deployment of the Military Emergency Unit to help firefighters tackle the blaze.
Andalusia's regional forest fire agency said on Sunday 365 firefighters, supported by 41 aircraft and 25 vehicles, were currently working to put out the fire.
"Ground firefighters are working intensively in harsh conditions trying to stop the advancing flames," it said on Twitter, where it shared footage of firefighters trying to control flames raging across dry and hilly terrain.
Andalusia's regional government announced on Sunday emergency services had ordered the "preventative evacuation" of the towns of Jubrique, population over 500, and Genalguacil, population around 400, where residents on Saturday had been confined to their homes because of the low-lying smoke in the area.
"The evacuation is taking place with maximum security measures and before a possible unfavorable evolution of the fire in that area," the regional government said in a statement.
Evacuees will be housed in a sports center in the nearby town of Ronda.
Regional environment chief Carmen Crespo said on Friday the blaze appeared to have been started deliberately and investigators were working to uncover more details.
(Reporting by Jessica Jones and John Nazca; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)