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Was devastating forest fire on Gran Canaria started deliberately? 

Blaze kills one woman and decimates 2,800 hectares.

These are the devastating images of the damage caused by a horrendous forest fire on Gran Canaria which killed one woman and decimated the beautiful summit landscape.

The emergency services, who say it was one of the most dangerous fires they have ever seen, believe it was almost certainly started “by a human hand”.

At this stage, they are keeping an open mind about whether it was carelessness, such as a discarded cigarette, or deliberate arson.

“The one theory already discarded is natural causes,” the island’s government has confirmed.

The forest blaze took five days to get under control and involved troops from the other islands, including Tenerife.

At the height of the fire, 25ft high flames forced the evacuation of 800 people who had to take refuge in sports and social centres until allowed back home.

The woman who died was a 60-year-old Swiss resident who had lived on the island for years.

Neighbours raised the alert when they realised she was unaccounted for and her body was found in the incinerated woods.

It has been revealed she could have saved herself but chose instead to try and bring her pet chickens to safety. Her other animals, it is understood, survived though an appeal has been set up on the island to help all the other pets displaced as a result of the fire.

At one stage, more than 300 firefighters were involved in the battle to contain the blaze and stop it from spreading.

Some 2,800 hectares have been burned as the aerial pictures show. The earth and historic pines have been incinerated, leaving a blackened landscape where beauty spots used to be.

The fire, which started in Tejeda, has affected the municipalities of San Mateo, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Valsequillo. Agüimes, Santa Lucía, Ingenio, Valleseco and Telde.

In an official statement, Gran Canaria’s government says investigators are sifting through the remnants of the blaze to find any clues and are talking to local people about what they might have seen.

“The starting point of the fire is near the road,” said a spokesman. “The area has a history of three intentional fires and there have been no indication of any work with machinery, the first cause of fires by negligence, although it could even be a cigarette butt. “

Technicians say it was the most dangerous fire they had ever seen which is why so many people were evacuated.

About 20 residents who live near the top of the summit were able to stay in their homes because special measures had already been taken because of the general riks of fire to protect their properties.

A drone is being used to fly over the affected area and pictures will be analysed.

“It is still too early to have conclusive results but the natural cause is ruled out, and intentionality gains strength over neglect, all with the utmost prudence because it is the first indications,” said the spokesman.

The Parador de Tejeda was badly damaged by the fire, with about 17 of the rooms affected to some degree. Occupancy at the time was low.

The Secretary of State for Tourism has announced that an action plan will be launched immediately for its recovery because it, together with the surroundings, “form a real symbol of Gran Canaria”.

Gran Canaria’s Cabildo is also submitting an urgent claim for compensation for all those affected.