A fire in the tourist hotspot of Costa del Sol on the shores of southern Spain has destroyed about 3,500 hectares of pine forest, an area equivalent to about 5,000 football pitches.
The fire, which broke out on Wednesday on the Sierra Bermeja mountain range, was now largely under control, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Felix Bolanos said on Friday during a visit to the affected area, about 100 kilometres west of the Mediterranean city of Málaga.
Inhabited areas are no longer in danger but the "flames still need to be fully controlled and extinguished," he said in the village of Benahavís.
Officials said about 2,000 people had to evacuate their homes as a precaution but they have now been allowed to return.
The flames were initially fuelled by strong winds and temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius. The blaze also erupted in hard-to-reach terrain.
Nearly 1,000 fire and emergency personnel had been sent to the scene. They were supported by 23 firefighting aircraft and helicopters.
Last September, an area on the Sierra Bermeja near the coastal community of Estepona was devastated by a six-day forest fire. At that time, more than 9,000 hectares were destroyed. The authorities were convinced that the fire was the work of arsonists, but the perpetrators have not been identified to date.