Gran Canaria summit devastated by ferocious fire
Gran Canaria has been in everyone’s thoughts after it suffered yet another devastating fire which forced the evacuation of nearly 1,200 people from 20 villages and all because of a soldering iron, it is believed!
The ferocious blaze, which has taken days to get under control due to the intense wind, has affected about 1,000 hectares, much of it protected land, on the summit of the island.
Residents said they feared “the end had come” when they saw the fire break out in the Artenara district on Saturday lunchtime and the flames just spread to encompass all in its path.
At the time of going to press, a team of 600 people were still fighting the fire, both on the ground and the air, and were likely to be on the scene all this week to dampen the tinderbox conditions in case it flared up again. There has been help from all the other islands, including Tenerife, and the mainland in terms of resources and moral support.
The emergency services have been much praised for their “magnificent efforts”, working around the clock in shifts in a bid to contain the fire, including through the digging of ditches and spraying hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on to the land.
Pictures are beginning to emerge of the scorched earth which will be a major blot on Gran Canaria’s landscape and because it is in the summit, very visible to all. It is now yet known how many properties were damaged but on Saturday night alone, 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the municipalities of Artenara, Tejeda and Gáldar. More people were told to leave their homes on Sunday night because of an imminent threat and the increase in wind speed.
Almost immediately after the fire broke out, a 55-year-old Spanish man was arrested at his home in the summit on suspicion of causing the fire through a spark from a welding machine he was using on open land. If this proves correct, he will be prosecuted for imprudence or recklessness and could face prison.
Residents and the authorities are devastated by the fire which looks like it could have been so easily avoided.
One resident said they were given only a few minutes to leave their home and just grabbed a few personal items, pets and some farm animals. Most spent the nights in municipal shelters, such as schools and sports halls.
The president of the Canary Government, Ángel Victor Torres echoed everyone’s heartbreak and promised they would give as much help as possible to all those affected.