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Soldiers are deployed to southeastern Spain to join the fight against a massive wildfire that has been burning for a fourth day

The authorities proceeded on Sunday with the preventive evacuation of the inhabitants of the city of Jubrique, which has 500 inhabitants, and announced that they would also evacuate the 400 inhabitants of Genalguacil. More than 1,000 others had already been evacuated before the weekend from other areas surrounding the resort town of Estepona, popular among tourists and foreign expats.

A military unit was traveling from the Morón military base in southern Spain to join more than 300 firefighters and 41 dropped planes battling the flames.

Infoca, the Andalusian regional agency in charge of firefighting efforts, called Sunday a “key day” to bring the blaze under control.

This despite tentative progress on Saturday, when authorities said better weather conditions had helped them stabilize the perimeter of the blaze, allowing them to focus on four hot areas.

Infoca released aerial footage showing towering plumes of smoke emerging from rugged terrain that it said made it difficult for crews to access the ground.

A combination of hot, dry temperatures with strong winds created a perfect storm turning the blaze that started late Wednesday into a “hungry monster,” as a regional official described earlier this week.

A 44-year-old firefighter died on Thursday while trying to put out the blaze.

Authorities say they have evidence of arson.

Forest fires are common in southern Europe during the hot, dry summer months, but have been particularly prevalent around the Mediterranean this year, made worse by severe heatwaves in August.

In Spain, more than 75,000 hectares (186,000 acres) of forest and bush areas burned in the first eight months of the year, according to official data from the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition.

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ABC News