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After razing 1,500 hectares, Gran Canaria fire now stabilized

Firefighters are concentrating on putting out the blaze before a heatwave hits the area on Friday

Firefighters battle against the blaze in Gran Canaria (Spanish text).

The regional government of Spain’s Canary Islands declared Tuesday evening that the wildfire in Gran Canaria has stabilized.

The fire has razed over 1,500 hectares since it broke out on Saturday, and forced more than 1,000 local residents to evacuate their homes.

Flames and smoke from a forest fire are seen in the village of Ingenio, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.
Flames and smoke from a forest fire are seen in the village of Ingenio, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. REUTERS

According to the firefighting team, there have been no further fire outbreaks or any situation that could compromise the control perimeter.

On Tuesday morning, Torres was already optimistic about the efforts to extinguish the fire. In a message on Twitter, he wrote: “A hard night which has dawned with evidence of the amazing work done by the firefighting forces.”

Around 300 local residents, who have not yet been able to return home, may receive permission to do so in the next hours, Manuel Chica, the spokesperson of  the 112 Canarias emergency services, told state television network TVE.

The goal now is to ensure the fire is completely extinguished before a heatwave is forecast to hit the area, which could complicate efforts to put out the blaze.

Although no one has been injured in the fire, the blaze has caused damage to the island’s “natural heritage,” Torres said on Monday.

Houses dot the hillside as a helicopter flies to drop water over wildfires at Artenara, Gran Canaria.
Houses dot the hillside as a helicopter flies to drop water over wildfires at Artenara, Gran Canaria. CARRETERAS GC via REUTERS

A 55-year-old man who had been working in the area with a welding machine was arrested on Saturday by the Civil Guard, who suspect that he accidentally started the fire.

Torres said he regretted that the fire had been caused by “human negligence and recklessness.”

Thirteen planes and a helicopter worked on Monday across a five-kilometer front considered “the head of the fire.” In a press release, the regional government said the tourism industry had “not been affected by the fire,” given its distance to the main tourist hubs. No hotel was threatened by the blaze, nor have there been any flight delays, it added.

A smaller, second fire that broke out in Cazadores in the Telde municipality has also been contained. Twenty-five local residents, who were evacuated from the area have been allowed to return home. This fire began in Los Cazadores Hoya de la Perra and quickly advanced to Guayadeque and El Lerete due to the strong winds. According to TVE, the blaze was started by a pyromaniac. Locals who saw what he had done were able to retain the man until the Civil Guard arrived and arrested him.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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