Spainish wildfires force thousands to flee
Wildfires drove thousands of people from their homes near a rare nature reserve in Spain's Canary Islands after a separate mainland blaze killed two, authorities say.
Wildfires drove thousands of people from their homes near a rare nature reserve in Spain’s Canary Islands after a separate mainland blaze killed two, authorities say.
Firefighters struggled to control the flames that engulfed the wooded hillsides on the island of La Gomera, reducing lush green trees to black dust, spewing grey smoke and displacing residents and tourists.
That fire started more than a week ago and has devastated more than 4000 hectares of land, including hundreds of hectares in the Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to rare subtropical plants.
Water-bombing aircraft were dousing the flames, which crackled rapidly through ravines in the west of La Gomera.
“It is very difficult because of the high temperatures, the wind, the low humidity and the lack of aircraft,” said a spokeswoman for the island council, Karen Bencomo.
“We have three water-bombing planes and four helicopters. We need 10 more planes,” she said.
On the other side of the island in the main town San Sebastian, beds were prepared in school lodgings for hundreds of evacuees, mostly tourists and visitors who came by boat from the west, mayor Angel Luis Castilla said.
More than 5000 people remained displaced from various villages on Monday afternoon, the regional government estimated, half of them from around Vallehermoso in the north of the island.
Far away on the Spanish mainland, near the southeastern city of Alicante, a forest fire killed two members of the emergency team fighting the blaze, the regional government said.
Firefighters battled through the night against the flames in the pine forests around Torre de les Macanes north of Alicante.
By Monday morning the fire had been stabilised and the flames had died down after covering about 600 hectares, regional government official Serafin Castellano said.
Meanwhile in Croatia and Bosnia, hundreds of firefighters were also struggling on Monday to put out several forest fires.
About 1500 hectares of land have gone up in flames since Sunday in Croatia’s southern Skradin and Komin regions.
In Bosnia, dozens of forest fires have blazed in recent days in the south of the country, notably in the region of Mostar and Konjic.