The scourge of Spanish summer fires are upon us again with this fire in La Alsandara, Tejeda on Gran Canaria, which has so far burnt more than 20,000 hectares of pine forest. A forest fire guard whose contract was about to run out, and who originally raised the alarm, has confessed to starting the fire and has been arrested. Forest guards are frequently accused of starting fires to guarantee work for themselves. A second fire is also raging on Tenerife. 13,000 people have been evacuated.(El Pais here)
“The fires have burnt at least 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) of land on the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
Spain’s Environment Minister Cristina Narbona called a state of “maximum alert” and ordered more water-bombing planes to help douse the fires. Hundreds of firefighters are working with planes to quell the blaze. On Saturday, police arrested a forest ranger who admitted to starting one of the fires. The 37-year-old man told police his job contract was about to expire and he wanted to keep working, according to the AP news agency.
Local officials said that 5,200 people had been taken to safety on Gran Canaria and at least 5,700 people were evacuated from homes in Tenerife as the four-day blaze continued to burn.
Hazards Previously, dozens of people had been evacuated from seven areas since Friday. Paulino Rivero, head of the regional government said: “The rugged landscape of these islands makes firefighting very complicated, except from the air. “But while there is a lot of wind and very high temperatures, helicopters generally cannot operate.” A spokesman for Gran Canaria’s authorities said fires were burning on four fronts but attention was being focused on two in the central Fataga area. He added that only two helicopters were able to drop water there because of the “terrible” wind. The fire has damaged 65% of the Palmitos bird sanctuary park. There are fears that toucans and other exotic birds may have been killed. A spokeswoman from Tenerife’s island authorities said some 300 members of fire and other emergency services were fighting the blazes, with the support of 34 lorries, four helicopters and a water-bomber airplane.
Meanwhile, officials in southern Portugal said a major forest fire that broke out on Monday had now been brought under control.” (BBC)