Gran Canaria Fires: Canary Islands Government praise firefighters and resolve to beat the fire
The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, began his most recent briefing by highlighting all the work carried out throughout the night along the right flank of the fire, which is designated from the tail of the fire, as if standing at the point of origin. The right flank crosses the municipalities of Valleseco, Moya, Santa María de Guía and Agaete, and the work there has been effective, preventing the flames from reaching populated areas, a priority objective since yesterday in the work of extinguishing the blaze. However, work continues intensively in that area to prevent the fire from advancing and this flank must be stopped before it reaches Agaete.
However, the head of the fire, that last night tragically reached the pine forests of Tamadaba, continues to progress and at this moment it is not a safe area for for firefighters to work in, although several are performing follow-up tasks in that zone.
At this time, the total land area affected by the fire stretches to more than 6,000 hectares, 60km2, within a perimeter stretching 60 kilometres in length and in places less than a km wide. Most of this increase since yesterday has been caused by the head of the fire entering the area of Tamadaba uncontrolled, while ground crews, firefighters and air support try to contain the perimeters.
Over the next few hours, Torres points out that by about 7:00 pm weather conditions should start to improve, as temperatures drop and relative humidity rises, which will all help to increase the effectiveness of the work to extinguish the active fronts.
The evolution of the fire through the night and the early hours of Monday morning lead to an increase in the number of evacuees, numbers based on the official population census, which rose to 9,000 people, 546 of whom have spent the night in the various shelters set up for this purpose. The current situation means that these people are not expected to return to their homes today.
Both the president of the Canary Islands and the Minister for Agriculture have stressed that we are facing one of the most important air and land deployments that have ever been carried out in the Canary Islands and one of the most important in recent years in Spain.Throughout the day, more than 1,000 people have worked tirelessly to fight the flames in shifts supported by 16 aircraft, of which 14 are discharging water over affected areas and the remaining two carry out aerial coordination work. According to Luis Planas, Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, two more double rotared Kamov helicopters and two “air tractor” aeroplanes are being sent from the Junta de Castilla – La Mancha, to join this deployment, along with aircraft specialised in aerial coordination and a drone for night tracking.
Ángel Víctor Torres insisted that all the actions being carried out have aimed primarily at preserving the safety of people, hence the numerous evacuations that have been declared, which has meant that up until today not one injury has been reported.
Finally, the Canary Islands president expressed his absolute conviction that “we will overcome this very serious and harmful fire for the island of Gran Canaria”. In this sense he showed his admiration and thanks to all the men and women who are intervening in fighting the fire as well as the many signs of solidarity coming from civil society, institutions and companies.
Despite the magnitude of the blaze, its impact on tourism activity has been very low, purely because it is the coastal areas and the south of the island that primarily cater to tourists, and the fires are no where near those primary zones. In addition, the airport is operating normally, as are all usual air and sea connections. He emphasised unequivocally “The Canary Islands, and Gran Canaria, in particular, are safe tourist destinations.” The very low number of foreign visitors evacuated from rural villages have relocated been to other establishments and planned activities in affected areas have been suspended.
Source: Canary Islands Government
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