Fires in Canary Islands

10,000 evacuated in the Canary Islands as 30,000 hectares destroyed by forest fire

Two forest fires have so far destroyed 30,000 hectares in Gran Canary and Tenerife and have resulted in 10,000 people being moved from their homes to safer areas. The president of the Canary Islands, Paulino Rivero, called the situation dramatic and appealed for help from the Spanish government. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish president, has announced that he will visit the affected areas on Wednesday and has cancelled a planned visit to Catalonia where he was due to meet the president of the Generalitat, Josep Montilla.

High temperatures are hampering efforts to quell the fires and the Spanish Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, currently on a visit to the Canary Islands, has announced that more air support and firefighters will be sent to the islands. She described the situation there as ‘alarming’.

So far only 2 people have been hurt trying to put out the fires.

Two soldiers from Emergency Military Unit were injured on the way to Gran Canary when the truck they were travelling in, which was carrying water, overturned.

Currently there are 10 helicopters being used in Gran Canary and another 2 are on their way to join in the struggle to get the fire under control. However, Paulino Rivero said that the mountainous terrain on the island together with strong wind was complicating efforts to extinguish the fire. He also spoke about help being given to those who have lost their homes or have suffered agricultural losses.

Meanwhile in Tenerife more than 14,000 hectares have been destroyed by fire and 8,500 people have been evacuated from Icod de los Vinos, La Guancha, Garachico and Los Realejos.

The fires currently burning on the 2 islands are some of the most serious in recent history.

Although no causes have been found yet arson is not being ruled out at this stage.

Related: Guide to Gran Canary, Guide to Tenerife