La Gomera loses 11 percent of its surface area to devastating blaze
Over a thousand Canary island residents still unable to return to their homes as regional leader calls for “justice”
The wildfires engulfing the Canary island of La Gomera have now ravaged more than 4,000 hectares of land, around 11 percent of the island’s total surface area. Although it was declared under control on Wednesday of last week, two days later the blaze reignited and 1,360 people remain unable to return to their homes of 5,000 that have been evacuated because of the fire.
The Garajonay National Park, A Unesco World Heritage Site in the center of the island, has been badly affected by the flames.
Only one front remains active, in the north of the island and, in a reverse of fortunes across the country this summer, the wind is aiding firefighters to stop its advance. After the driest winter in 70 years, wildfires have raged across Spain over the past three months and have now destroyed a total of 132,299 hectares of land, more than triple the amount during the same period in 2011.
High temperatures, low rainfall, strong winds and human negligence have all combined to set numerous corners of the country ablaze in the worst year for fires during the last decade.
As appears to have been the case in the Mediterranean wildfires which have claimed six lives so far this summer, La Gomera’s conflagration is thought to have been ignited by non-natural causes. Paulino Rivero, the regional premier of the Canaries, called on the security forces to capture the “heartless” perpetrators of the blaze. On Wednesday a new fire erupted on Tenerife before being brought under control by redeploying some of the firefighting aircraft tackling the blaze on La Gomera.