Spain battles wildfire, evacuates 200

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Firefighters backed by planes and helicopters battled towering flames in southern Spain Monday, trying to tame a forest fire that forced 200 people to evacuate, officials said.

Whipped up by warm winds, the blaze spread quickly in the popular tourist province of Malaga.

"The fire broke out yesterday in high temperatures, winds of more than 20 kilometres per hour (12 mph), and a breakout zone made up of thicket and pine groves," said a statement by the Andalusia region's firefighters.

The authorities evacuated about 200 people from three towns -- Marbella, Mijas, and Ojen on Sunday, a Malaga local government official said. Many residents were allowed to return in the early hours of Monday.

A total of 21 firefighting teams with 11 fire trucks and two supply vehicles fought the fire on the ground, fireghters said.

They were being joined in the early hours by nine helicopters including fighting, cargo and transport choppers, four water planes and a surveillance and coordination plane.

Officials were unable to say how much land had been razed by the flames.

© 2011 AFP

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