More than 9,000 evacuated from ‘monster’ wildfire on Canary Islands

Water-dropping aircraft and 1,100 firefighters deployed in shifts to battle the blaze

Flames and smoke from a forest fire are seen in the village of Moya, on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria on Sunday. Photograph: Borja Suarez/Reuters

Flames and smoke from a forest fire are seen in the village of Moya, on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria on Sunday. Photograph: Borja Suarez/Reuters

 

An out-of-control wildfire in Spain’s Canary Islands that is throwing flames 48m into the air has forced emergency services to evacuate more than 9,000 people from Gran Canaria.

The blaze – described by the local fire department as “a monster” – was racing across parched woodlands into Tamadaba Natural Park, regarded as one of the jewels on Gran Canaria, a mountainous volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago off north-west Africa.

Famous for its beaches and mountains, Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas, are popular holiday destinations for Britons and others across Europe.

The blaze is in a rugged inland area.

Canary Islands president Angel Victor Torres said 1,100 firefighters were being deployed in shifts along with 16 water-dropping aircraft to battle the blaze that started on Saturday afternoon.

The local government said around 14,800 acres had been burned in just 48 hours. Villages were evacuated and two dozen roads were closed, it added.

Emergency workers faced huge flames and gusting winds that blew embers into the air, starting secondary blazes, local fire officials said.

Smoke rises from a forest fire in Gran Canaria, Spain on Monday. Photograph: BRIF handout/EPA
Smoke rises from a forest fire in Gran Canaria, Spain on Monday. Photograph: BRIF handout/EPA

Summer temperatures on Monday were expected to hit 36 degrees and build to 38 degrees later this week.

The Spanish caretaker government’s farm minister, Luis Planas, told a news conference in Las Palmas that Madrid sent a “cutting-edge” drone to the island that can livestream images of the fire at night. One aircraft on Gran Canaria also co-ordinated aviation movements to prevent an accident in the busy skies, he said.

Mr Planas said the official response to the fire on Gran Canaria was one of the greatest firefighting deployments recently in all of Spain.

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. – AP