The fire ravaging Gran Canaria out of control, new evacuations

The fire ravaging the Spanish island of Gran Canaria was Monday out of control according to the authorities who had to carry out new evacuations in the center of this tourist island with many protected areas.
The fire “is beyond our capacity for extinction,” Federico Grillo, head of the island’s emergency services, told reporters on Sunday night.

The flames reached 50 meters high in places, preventing the 700 or so firefighters mobilized from attacking them, even using air assets.

“The situation is bad, very bad. We have for at least two days, acknowledged Federico Grillo, evoking the high temperatures, the wind and the rains of ashes that can cause new starts of fire.

Declared Saturday in the town of Valleseco, in the center of the island, the fire spread Monday morning on 3400 hectares, announced the emergency services.

Several municipalities, whose total population reached 8000 inhabitants, were evacuated, they added, without being able to indicate the precise number of people concerned. No victims were to be deplored.

Residents have also been “confined” to a cultural center in Artenara, a “temporary technical measure” according to the emergency services, access to the village and possible evacuation routes being too dangerous for the time being.

The fire spread over an area classified as a “biosphere reserve” by Unesco for its very diverse landscapes including among others pine forests. It was likely to progress to the Inagua reserve, the most biodiverse and protected area, said Grillo.

The interior of Gran Canaria, with several protected areas, is popular with hikers, but the bulk of tourists frequent the beaches. The regional government also stressed in a statement that tourism was not affected by the fire because “no tourist complex feels the effects.”

Another fire had already covered 1,500 hectares inside the island last week, without making any injuries. If he was mastered, the fire department could not extinguish it completely when the new fire broke out.

The Canary Islands, archipelago of seven islands including Gran Canaria is the second most visited, welcomed last year 13.7 million tourists, especially British and German.

Spain, the world’s second-largest tourist destination, is affected each summer by numerous forest fires because of its arid climate.

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