The Canary Islands Government has declared the Gran Canaria forest fire as “stabilised”, after burning for more than 3 days and nights, since last Saturday afternoon, having affected a 15km2 area around where the municipalities of Tejeda, Artenara and Gáldar all join in the mountainous centre of the island. Only two buildings were destroyed in the fire, with life beginning to return to normal for most of the thousand or so people who had to be evacuated. No lasting damage has been reported in the picturesque mountain villages of Artenara and Tejeda, which at one point were directly threatened by the blazing hillside inferno.
The technical director of the emergency coordination team made the announcement on Tuesday evening after consultation and deliberation with the main Advisory Committee, taking into account reports from from the Firefighting Directorate, who highlighted that there have been no significant re-ignitions or other reported incidents that could compromise the stability of the planned control lines around the affected area.
Based on these statements, the Canary Islands Government has temporarily prohibited all recreational, festive, tourist and sports activities in the area, especially those that involve a significant concentration of people. Likewise, it has been recommended that members of the public avoid moving people and vehicles around the summits, unless strictly necessary, particularly around the area affected by the forest fire and the security perimeter established in the affected municipalities.
High temperatures have been predicted over the next few days, by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) set to increase along with the arrival of moderate winds with strong gusts from the east & northeast, which could well be accompanied by calima dust from the Sahara. Maximum temperatures in the shade of up to 31ºC are predicted in Tejeda, with the possibility that they could rise to 36º on Friday, 37º on Saturday and the fall slightly to 35º degrees Sunday with night time minimums of between 23º and 28º. Rains are also expected to follow, around the summits, with a 65% probability on Monday, which should also bring a drop in temperatures to between 29º and 19º C in the shade.
The Government of the Canary Islands have maintained a Level 2 alert and, therefore, emergency management, according to the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Emergency Response to Canarian Forest Fires (INFOCA) is still in force. All the available firefighting resources will remain activated and teams will carry out surveillance tasks to control hot spots and possible reactivation within the burned area, continuing with work to moisten the ground, among other preventative tasks.
The area affected by the fire is estimated at 1,500 hectares, within a perimeter measuring 23 kilometres. Yesterday (Tuesday) those evacuated from the different municipalities were authorised to return to their homes as the main roads reopened. Only the GC-150, the road from Los Pechos to Pinos de Gáldar, between Cruz de Tejeda and Pinos de Gáldar is still closed.
Around 600 firefighters have participated in the task of controlling the blaze, assisted by up to 14 aircraft belonging to the Government of the Canary Islands, Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Cabildo de Tenerife and the Spanish Government.
The speed with which some of these aircraft were able to tackle the fire fronts and return to refill from fresh water reservoirs was impressive, in particular the work of the Kamov 32 helicopter based out of Tenerife, which has a similar load capacity as the much lauded seaplane sent from the Spanish mainland, but with the added advantage of using fresh water supplies, rather than seawater, which has serious repercussions for soil quality and agriculture, as well as the potential to damage pine forests.
The heroic fire operation on the ground was made up of personnel from the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Emergency and Rescue Group (GES), the Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigade (BRIF) of La Palma, the Forest Fire Intervention and Reinforcement Teams (EIRIF ) of La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, Gran Canaria Emergency Consortium, Military Emergency Unit (UME), Canary Islands Emergency Service (SUC), Red Cross, Civil Protection of the municipalities of Ingenio, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Santa Brígida, Santa Lucía, Teror, Valleseco, San Mateo, Valsequillo, Moya, Mogán and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Local Police of Tejeda, Gáldar and Artenara, General Corps of the Canary Police (CGPC), Civil Guard and Emergencies Fuerteventura .
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