Evacuees fleeing Canary Islands wildfire rise to 8,000

Department of Foreign Affairs urges anyone with concerns to contact Irish embassy in Spain

 

Around 8,000 people have been evacuated as firefighters battle an out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

“The fire remains out of control,” a spokeswoman for emergency services in the region told Reuters. “It is a very serous fire.”

Sixteen planes and helicopters as well as more than 700 firefighters are currently working to contain flames as high as 50 metres, authorities said. More than 3,400 hectares have burned so far and the fire is moving aggressively towards the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests.

Some 400 firefighters spent the night battling the fire’s flanks, hoping to choke it off as it moved towards more populated areas.

“The fire is not contained nor stabilised or controlled,” Canary Islands regional president Angel Victor Torres told a news briefing, adding he had spoken by phone with Spanish acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez to request central government help.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has said it is closely monitoring the situation in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands and has urged anyone with concerns around the evacuations to contact the Irish embassy in Madrid.

It is understood that no Irish holiday makers have sought consular assistance from the DFA yet, however both Irish tourists and their family back home have been advised that they can seek information and support from the Irish Embassy in Madrid.

A DFA spokeswoman said the department said anyone with concerns for Irish citizens in the affected areas could contact the Irish Embassy on +34 914 364 093. – Additional reporting from Reuters