'Wildfire was stopped outside our door' Marbella resident talks to MSN

MSN talks to one Spanish resident whose house was just yards from where the Marbella wildfire was stopped.

Wildfire rages in SpainPA

"The leaves turned to fire mid-air, our eyes were sore from the smoke, we couldn't breathe nor see anything," says Lautaro Tarelli. He is just one of thousands told to leave their homes after the fires which have ravaged southern Spain threatened to reach his town.

The 21 year-old described how the blaze, believed to have started on Thursday afternoon in the town of Coin, tore through hills near his home in El Rosario, Marbella: "The beach club where I was working had ash falling from the sky and it was really dark and cloudy. When I got home I could see from the mountains how the sky was lit red and it was smoking."

The fires spread quickly overnight through the popular holiday area on Spain's Costa del Sol, destroying as many as 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of land. The fire brigade struggled to keep the blaze contained as the winds swept the flames into the trees, tinder dry after a prolonged summer heatwave. The Spanish media reports that as many as 4,000 people have had to abandon their homes.

Lautaro and his family saw the blaze coming nearer and quickly realised the approaching danger: "We had the fire coming really close to us. We called emergency services and they told us to evacuate. The streets were flooded with people fleeing and the police and firemen were trying to get to the affected areas as quick as possible.

"We stayed close to the beach at a friend's house and from the balcony we witnessed how hundreds of hectares were being burnt in a matter of hours."

The fire stopped yards from Lautaro Tarelli's homeLautaro Tarelli

Returning today, they realised they had made a lucky escape: "This morning we found that the fire brigade literally stopped the fire in front of our door.

"We were very lucky but also we have to acknowledge the outstanding work by the local authorities, supportive, effective and organized."

Only half an hour away, others have not been so fortunate. The fires razed the town of Ojen and the villages nearby, where Lautaro's dad lives: "Ojen and that town got seriously damaged. Everyone in Ojen who has a house in the mountain lost it. People that live up in the mountains, in the small villages there pretty much lost everything.

"My best friend whose father has over 300 hectares of land had it all burnt in one night."

Jose Luis Ruiz Espejo, a regional interior ministry official, said fire-fighters suspect arson.

Lautaro, who goes to university in England, struggles to cope with the idea: "I can't think of any reason why anyone would deliberately create this... what we saw last night was horrible. I don't wish this to anybody, some people lost everything they had for generations and they'll never get it back."

Though two people have suffered serious burns, nobody has been killed.

More than 250 fire-fighters are battling the blaze, helped by 17 aircraft, and hope to have the fire under control by the end of the day, Spain's El Pais news website says.

For many, though, the damage has already been done and has cost them terribly.