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Wildfire forces 4K to evacuate in Spain’s Canary Islands

  • COURTSY GUARDIA CIVIL

    An officer looks at a forest fire in Gran Canaria, Spain, on Saturday. Spanish authorities say a wildfire on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria has burned 2,470 acres and has forced the evacuation of 1,000 residents.

MADRID >> Around 4,000 people were evacuated today because of wildfires that, for the second time in a week, ravaged the countryside of one of Spain’s Canary Islands.

The latest blaze broke out on Saturday afternoon near the town of Valleseco on Gran Canaria island in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago.

By Sunday afternoon, the fire had taken two different directions, burning more than 4,200 acres as it continued advancing, the provincial government said in a series of tweets.

Nine helicopters and two planes were aiding at least 600 people including firefighters and army emergency personnel who were working in shifts to tackle the blaze.

Officials described the fire as having “great potential” to spread. The island was experiencing temperatures close to 104 F, humidity levels below 30% and strong winds, which usually provide what experts call the “perfect storm” for virulent wildfires.

“The environmental damage has already been done,” said Ángel Víctor Torres, the region’s president, in comments carried by the private Europa Press news agency.

“We are facing a complicated situation in which the security of people is the priority now,” the official added.

Evacuations extended to at least 40 towns in the vicinity of Valleseco.

At least 3,700 acres of field and low forest burned in the same area last week.

Wildfires are common in southern Europe during the hot, dry summer months. Nearly half of Spain’s provinces were on alert today for a high risk of fires, according to the country’s weather agency AEMET.

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