A FAMILY was forced to evacuate a Spanish holiday apartment less than one hour after arriving when flames engulfed land around the hotel complex.
Paul and Valerie Clark had just unpacked after checking in at the hotel to settle on their balcony with their three children, Caitlin, 16, Logan, 11, and Isla, eight.
The couple, who both work for HM Revenue and Customs in the Capital, said they noticed the surrounding mountains – around a mile away – were ablaze and fellow holidaymakers had started to take pictures and film it on their phones.
A sudden change in the wind direction turned the flames towards the Club La Costa apartments, in the Mijas Costa area of the Costa Del Sol, forcing the family to quickly grab their belongings and flee.
Mr Clark, 46, a tax officer, said: “By this time thick smoke had blacked out the sun and hot ash was raining down on everyone.
“Our youngest daughter was crying at this stage, shouting, ‘We’re going to die’ and started stuffing her clothes into carrier bags.
“I grabbed our passports and cash and changed out of my flip flops into my trainers so I could run faster. Our eyes were streaming with tears and no-one knew what to do.
“It was scary stuff and all sorts of things are going through your head, but I just wanted to get everyone to safety.”
The family had arrived at the apartments just 58 minutes earlier last Sunday.
Mr Clark said fleeing residents came running down the hill shouting for guests to head to the beach.
He said: “We followed everyone else and made our way to get away from the smoke and flames. Holidaymakers were still arriving from the airport in taxis, but the drivers took one look at the situation and sped off.
“Eventually the state guards, fire service and police arrived and closed the roads off around us. Planes and helicopters started dropping water on to the fire.
“It took a good couple of hours to get under control and they continued to water bomb the hills for hours afterwards.”
Mrs Clark, 42, also a tax officer, said: “At first it was exciting watching the fire in the mountains, it seemed far away and at no point did anyone think it would head for us.
“But as soon as the wind changed things started to get frightening and panic set in. Thankfully no-one died.”
The family has moved from the Capital to live in Dalgety Bay, and is now holidaying in Fuengirola, also on the Costa Del Sol.
Around 200 residents from 55 properties in the popular tourist destination were forced to leave the area following the forest fire – the cause of which is not clear – with another 800 going voluntarily because of smoke.