Thousands of people were evacuated after a huge wildfire reached the edge of Marbella on Spain's southern Costa del Sol.

One man has died and several others have been injured.

More than 300 firefighters were battling the flames, which had spread several kilometres along hilly ground behind the coast, and 31 planes and helicopters were dumping water on the blaze.

Millions of tourists visit the Costa del Sol, famed for its beaches and nightlife, every year and hundreds of thousands of expatriates from northern Europe live on the coastal belt.

"The fire is horrific, with flames 10 to 15 metres high," Angel Nozal, the mayor of Mijas, an inland town between Marbella and Malaga, told the national daily El Pais.

The body of an elderly man was found in Ojen, north of Marbella, and a man and a woman in their 50s were taken to the city's Costa del Sol hospital after suffering serious burns.

The fire broke out last night near Malaga and raced westward through tinder-dry hilly countryside, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

Thousands of people had to be hurriedly evacuated to a sports centre when the fire reached housing estates on the outskirts of Marbella.

Two roads near the city were closed because of the fire but authorities said one had been reopened.

Unusually dry weather in Spain has resulted in wildfires burning thousands of hectares of land this summer, and temperatures have hit record highs in some regions.

Thousands of people were evacuated earlier this month in the Canary Islands, while four people died in fires in the border area between France and Catalonia, in northeast Spain, in July.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Irish people travelling to Marbella to tune in to local and national media for updates, and follow the instructions of the local authorities.