Country side fires which razed thousands of acres on Gran Canaria last month have been described as “unprecedented.” Several thousand people, including holiday-makers, were evacuated from more than 50 towns and villages as the wildfires ripped through remote areas in the north of the island.
The fire began on August 17 in the municipality of Vallesco and advanced on two fronts. High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity helped to fan the flames, some of which rose to 50 metres – so high that planes which drop water on burning areas were unable to operate.
By August 20 when weather conditions began to ease, more than 600 fire fighters, including military personnel and supported by 14 aircraft, were working across 10,000 hectares of land to control the blazes.
One of Spain’s oldest pine forests in the Tamadaba national park suffered in what the island’s authorities described as an “unprecedented environmental tragedy.” However, the regional government said there had been no serious injuries and no significant damage to tourism infrastructure.
Meanwhile, a French national has been arrested in Estepona on suspicion of starting a fire which forced 200 people to leave their homes last month. The blaze broke out around midday in the Peñas Blancas area of the municipality on August 19 after he reportedly decided to burn a hornets’ nest using petrol but lost control of the flames. Around 240 fire fighters supported by 22 aircraft worked to contain the outbreak in dry, hot and humid conditions, but an estimated 330 hectares was razed before the situation was stabilised.
In Galicia, the regional government has introduced new fines of up to €100,000 on land owners who fail to keep their properties clear of fire hazards. Municipalities are required to maintain fire breaks 50 metres wide around population centres and 400 metres wide around industrial facilities.
an “unprecedented environmental tragedy.”