FIREFIGHTERS on Gran Canaria have said they are “fighting for their island” as they battle blazes raging across the holiday destination.
The brave heroes are digging huge trenches and spraying the mountainside with water in a bid to control the massive wildfire ripping across the island.
More than 1,000 hectares were destroyed last night and there are fears flames could be whipped up again by strong winds.
After more than 30 hours of constant work, the authorities say the fire IS being contained within a radius of 14 miles in the municipalities of Artenara, Tejeda and Gáldar.
The aim now is to stop it spreading in the face of a bad weather forecast predicting an increase in the wind speed.
The weather forecast for the Canaries is giving a yellow warning for wind from midnight, described as “very bad news” for the fire.
President of the Canary Islands Government Ángel Victor Torres said the mountainside on the summit of the holiday island remained alight but the emergency team of more than 200 personnel had managed to contain it this afternoon and evening with “magnificent efforts”.
“With the objective of maintaining this situation, the work of the land and air forces in the perimeter area is being intensified by making trenches and moistening the area to try to prevent the fire from spreading during the night,” he said.
All eyes are on the weather, with gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour expected “which could complicate the evolution of the fire if the safety zone is breached.”
The most complicated area is the southern flank of the fire and a contingency plan is in place to order new evacuations if necessary.
“The objective at this time is to maintain control and work to prevent the spread of the fire,” said the Canary president.
Nearly 1,000 people were evacuated last night but only 60 remain in municipality shelters such as schools and sports halls. They are believed to have gone to relatives rather than return to their homes in the risk areas.
Properties have been damaged in the fire but it is not yet known to what extent. Two firefighters have suffered burns whilst fighting the blaze.
The Civil Guard has arrested a resident of Telde, for starting the fire whilst using welding machinery at his house.
The 55-year-old Spaniard appeared in court is Spanish and faces prosecution for imprudence.
Smoke rises from the forest fire in Artenara, Gran Canaria[/caption]
Troops have now being called in to fight the massive blaze[/caption]
The blaze is believed to have been sparked by a man using a soldering iron and a 55 year old has been arrested by local cops.
Last night, the emergency was downgraded after firefighters believed the flames were under some sort of control but extra air help has now been called in.
And this morning Gran Canaria fire brigade tweeted: “We are overwhelmed by the situation. We continue working and fighting for our island !!!”
Numerous villages have been evacuated and around 1,000 residents spent the night in municipal buildings including sports centres, schools and community halls.
They are still being barred from returning to their homes because the fire is still so ferocious.
Red Cross officials confirmed no residents have been injured although they are very worried about their homes as several properties have been burned.
Two firefighters needed treatment for burn injuries[/caption]
More than 900 residents spent the night in municipal buildings[/caption]
At least a dozen small population centres were evicted during the night due to the proximity of the fire.
Two firefighters needed treatment for burn injuries.
Soldiers from the Emergency Intervention Unit from Los Rodeos (Tenerife) are now being brought in to help firefighters.
The municipalities of Tejeda, Artenara and Gáldar are among the locations evacuated with the districts of Las Peñas, El Tablado, El Rincón, Juan Fernández, La Culata, Peña Rajada, Las Arbejas and Las Crucitas all affected.
At least one tourist campsite has been evacuated and the smoke is clearly visible from the air from all parts of the island and from Tenerife.
The fire started in Artenara which is in the western part of Gran Canaria in the mountains and about 20 miles from the capital of Las Palmas.
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According to bulletins, the fire spread rapidly through the summit last night but there were hopes it was being brought under control.
This morning, the island’s council tweeted: “During the morning, 10 air means will be incorporated into the #IFArtenara extinction tasks at the #GRANCANARIA summit.
“Nine helicopters from different Administrations (State, Government and Cabildo) and an airplane will participate.”
Spain’s acting president, Pedro Sánchez has praised the work of the emergency services, many of whom have not rested for 24 hours.
Numerous villages have been evacuated near the mountain[/caption]
Nine helicopters are working to get the fire under control[/caption]
The blaze is believed to have been started by a man using a soldering iron[/caption]
The fire started in Artenara which is in the western part of Gran Canaria[/caption]
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