Gran Canaria Fires: could be 60km2 burned, 8,000 evacuated, no injuries, but many houses lost
At least 8,000 people have already been evacuated from the summits and the north of Gran Canaria as a result of the latest forest fire that started on Saturday at a ravine in the municipality of Valleseco and this Monday more than 700 fire fighters will be battling throughout the day to try to bring under control a blaze on several fronts, with the support of 16 aircraft.
After apocalyptic scenes on the summits of gran canaria last night, a spokeswoman for the 112 Canary Islands Emergency Coordination Centre has said this morning that a dawn deployment has already relieved the 400 or so fire fighting troops who have fought through the night to try contain the tail of the fire (Valleseco) and both its right and left flanks , and that the head has continued to advance without any current possibility of being brought control as it has engulfed the Tamadaba Natural Park, on the northwest side of Gran Canaria.
The extraordinary number of evacuees has been calculated from official census records in the various mountain neighbourhoods affected by the evacuations, however only 400 people have needed to spend the night at the six temporary shelters set up in San Mateo, Teror, Gáldar, Moya, Agaete and Tunte.
Emergency relief services have also kept in touch with the 40 people who were last night ordered to remain confined, for their own safety, inside the cultural centre in Artenara, and who will be moved from there as soon as the fire situation permits. There have been no reports of anyone injured, everyone is safe and following established protocols. Last nights decision to be maintain their position in that place was taken on the basis that it offered a safe haven, as last night it would have been far too risky to leave Artenara due to the fire conditions.
With the first light of day, fire fighting aircraft resumed their invaluable work, in a deployment of 16 aircraft: four hydroplanes, a forest plane and eleven helicopters, nine directly dedicated to fighting fire and two in coordination tasks.
During the night, the advance of the fire forced the evacuation of new populations, including the entire urban zone of Valleseco (3,784 inhabitants), the neighbourhood of El Carrizal de Tejeda, at the summit; and the neighbourhoods of El Valle and El Risco, in Agaete, near to the head of the fire, on the northwest of the island.
Most recently populations from the villages of Saucillo, in Gáldar, and Piletas and Troya, in Agaete have also been evacuated to safer ground.
The fire has already caused enormous environmental damage, with several natural areas affected, including one of the “great green jewels of Gran Canaria”, the Tamadaba pine forest, but for the moment there is no record of any injuries, despite the fact that the fire has crossed areas known by technicians as “interface” zones, because they contain a mixture of vegetation and housing.
The Minister for Agriculture, Luis Planas, is travelling to Gran Canaria this Monday morning to meet with the Canarian authorities and follow the evolution of the fires from the main 112 Emergency and Security Coordination Centre in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
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