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The rain helped control a major forest fire that ravaged 7,800 hectares (19,200 acres) of southern Spain despite more than five days of intense firefighting by land and air.

Juan Manuel Moreno, president of the Andalusia region, said Tuesday morning in a tweet that “the rain that has been falling for a few hours has been the best ally of the intense and admirable work of the crews”.

But he said the blaze in Sierra Bermeja, a mountain range close to the tourist magnet of the Costa del Sol, was not finished and the work to fully extinguish the flames was complex.

Authorities say they have reason to believe arson was behind the blaze, which started Wednesday night at various hot spots in an area that environmentalists said was home to a unique ecosystem. The Spanish prosecution has opened an investigation.

The virulence of the blaze, fueled by high temperatures and strong winds, surprised authorities, with a seasoned forestry technician describing him as a “hungry monster” who responded despite hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and dozens of firefighters. dropped planes deployed in the region.

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

About 2,600 residents were evacuated, but most of them had returned home on Tuesday morning, the regional fire extinguisher, Plan Infoca said.

Experts from the agency said the Sierra Bermeja forest fire would set a precedent as the first mega-fire Spain suffered due to global warming and the gradual abandonment of rural areas.

Official data shows that forest fires are getting worse in Spain. In the first eight months of 2021, they consumed more forest land – 75,000 hectares or 186,000 acres – than the average for the past decade.

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