16 September 2019

Gran Canaria wildfire causes 8,000 people to be evacuated

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Around 700 firefighters with the aid of 11 helicopters and five aircraft are working to control a wildfire which has so far destroyed around 4,000 hectares of woodland and led to 8,000 people being evacuated from their homes on the Spanish holiday island of Gran Canaria on Monday. reports citing Xinhua.

Local authorities confirmed that the fire, which is in the north of the island is currently "unable to be extinguished," due to a combination of high-winds, temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade and low humidity levels of around 10 percent.

Laura Otero, spokesperson for the Emergency Services in the Canary Islands explained on Spanish national radio that the islands are currently "on alert for high temperatures, with temperatures expected to be unchanged on Monday and accompanied by high winds.

Otero explained the combination of conditions have so far made it impossible for firefighters to combat the spread of the fire, adding that the smoke had made it too dangerous to use aircraft and helicopters for much of Sunday.

The fire, which began on Friday for reasons yet to be determined, has caused "extensive damage" to the Tamadaba national park which is one of the most important green areas on Gran Canaria, but so far there have not been any human casualties.

The rapid spread of the fire means that the entire town of Valleseco (which has 3,784 inhabitants) was evacuated on Sunday night as well as neighborhoods of the town of Tejeda and several other small towns in the region.

Spain's acting minister for agriculture Luis Planas will visit Gran Canaria on Monday to meet local authorities and follow the evolution of the fire.

2019.08.20 / 09:52
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