'Environmental tragedy' as Canary Islands fire out of control

The fire is devouring the mountainous centre of the holiday island

Gran Canaria emergency chief Frederico Grillo said recent blazes on the island are much worse now than when families worked in the countryside and kept the forests more orderly, private news agency Europa Press reported.

Firefighters stated the blaze was propelled by excessive temperatures, sturdy winds and low humidity.

Resorts in the main beach area of the island haven't been affected by the higher terrain fires.

Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres said 549 people will be unable to return home on Monday, and 500 temporary shelters have already been provided.

Altogether, 1,000 firefighters and other crew and 14 water-dropping helicopters and planes were working to control the blaze, which is estimated to have destroyed 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres), according to emergency services.

Several thousand people were forced to evacuate from their homes close to the fire on Sunday and Monday.


He added the blaze had not reached the Inagua nature reserve, another area of major biodiversity, as initially feared. Some people were evacuated last week, due to a previous fire.

"The virulence of the fire, the speed at which flames spread, the intensity of the fronts, mean that more extreme weather conditions are generated inside the fire and embers leap sometimes hundreds of metres away", she stated.

The centre of the island, with its valleys, slopes and mountains offering breath-taking views, attracts hikers.

Gran Canaria is the third largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, which is 93 miles west of Africa.

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. It received 13.7 million foreign visitors a year ago, with more than half of them from the United Kingdom and Germany.

With its arid scorching summers, Spain is ceaselessly suffering from enormous forest fires.

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