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Rains help bring fierce Spanish wildfire under control

A helicopter makes a water drop over a wildfire on Sierra Bermeja mountain, in Genalguacil, near Estepona. Photo by REUTERS/Jon Nazca

A wildfire that burned for six days and devastated forests near Estepona in southern Spain was brought under control early Tuesday as steady rains helped firefighters, authorities said.

The fire, which had burned through at least 7,780 hectares (30 square miles) since it started last Wednesday, is "now under control", the local wildfire agency said on its Twitter account.

"The rain falling for several hours was the best ally to the intense and admirable work of the brigades," Andalusia's president Juanma Moreno said on Tuesday morning.

About 1,000 firefighters backed by some 50 aircraft had worked to put out the blaze, which firefighters have said was one of the most difficult to combat in recent times in Spain.

Fanned by strong winds last week, the wildfire spread through the mountainous Sierra Bermeja area above Estepona, a popular spot with British tourists and retirees.

Most of the 2,000 people who were evacuated were allowed back home from Monday evening.

A firefighter died on Thursday while working to extinguish the fire.

Regional environment chief Carmen Crespo said on Friday the blaze appeared to have been started deliberately and investigators were working to uncover more details.

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