Gran Canaria breathes a sigh of relief as firefighters regain control
The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, has announced that “when people return to their homes it means that we are overcoming the fire” confirming that the Gran Canaria fire is now finally in a stabilisation phase after “a complicated night” and great work throughout Tuesday by the various emergency services, the results of which “have allowed us to deliver this magnificent news.”
Despite the long awaited good news, the official perimeter of the fire has now been officially assessed as being between 112 and 120 square kilometres, just under 8% of the total land mass of the island, although the most directly affected area now stands at at least 10,000 hectares (equal to 10,000 football fields or 100km2) following the latest official assessments of the fire.
These estimates have directly led to the announcement late on Tuesday night that the overwhelming majority of residents, who had been most directly at risk, can now return safely to their homes. Specifically, the residents of the communities of Madrelagua, Cuevecitas, La Caldereta, Altos de Lanzarote, El Prado and the town centre in the municipality of Valleseco have all been authorised to return home; as well as residents of Fontanales and the Hoya del Cavadero, in Moya; Piletas, Troy and the Valley de Agaete; and the population centres of Las Arvejas, Chajunco, Las Cuevas and with great relief those with homes in the most endangered of all the villages, Artenara, where up to 40 people were forced on Sunday night to take refuge in a government designated shelter in the town as flames engulfed the surrounding hills.
“We have moved from evacuations to relocations,” said the Canary Islands president who insisted that everyone “remain patient, as entering burned zones still involves risks.” According to the Cabildo de Gran Canaria’s chief emergencies coordinator, Federico Grillo, “now the fire is within our extinguishing capacity” and we hope that in “one to two days there will be no reactivations.” However, he stressed that fire teams must continue to work intensely to avoid reignition and thus ensure the safety of all the areas involved.
As for the North Western summit pine forests of the Tamadaba Natural Park, Grillo has said that the level of severity in the areas affected by the fire has been “much lower than expected, which does not mean that there is no damage.”
“We must continue to be on alert,” said the Emergency Chief, “because the danger has not passed,” a statement which was repeated by the president of the Canary Islands insisting that” we must finish the work to prevent this beast from being revived. “
Throughout the day, on Tuesday, the air deployment have discharged more than 1.6 million litres of water across the affected areas, a task that will be continued on Wednesday, depending on the evolution of the fire, 18 aircraft will reinforce the land operations to extinguish the flames once and for all. Throughout the night, a deployment of 400 firefighters have continued to work across the burn zone, with more than 200 working on the front lines of the fire.
President Ángel Víctor Torres says that he has maintained daily contact with the president of the Government of Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who, he says, has continuously monitored the emergency, and he stressed “the important institutional solidarity” that the Canary Islands have received at all times.
Meanwhile, acting Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, described the fire as “devastating, dreadful and overwhelming” but she expressed optimism “as it steadily progresses towards stabilisation.” Robles repeated the full support of the Government of Spain for all affected citizens and stressed that “we very much feel their pain and concern, for which we offer all our love.”
The Minister, in a statement, further guaranteed the Spanish Government’s commitment that “at all times we are needed, we will be here” saying that those affected will always “have support of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces.”
Source: Canary Islands Government
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