A rapidly-spreading wildfire that broke out at the centre of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on Tuesday (25 July) forced the authorities to remove several hundred villagers from their homes, shut three roads and deploy helicopters to contain the blaze.
A witness said the flames affecting the hilly central part of the island near the Tejeda peak, away from the beaches popular with tourists, were just metres from an array of antennae on a mountain top, some of them linked to air traffic control.
However, Spanish airports operator AENA told Reuters, however, the Gran Canaria airport on the eastern coast was operating normally.
“The fire has escaped the initial efforts to control it… We are working intensely to prevent it from spreading,” local emergency services chief, Federico Grillo, told Radio Canarias.
Antonio Morales, head of the Island Council of Gran Canaria, told reporters about 100 firefighters and nine aircraft were working to put out the blaze that has so far burned through 200 hectares of forest but no buildings have been harmed.
One of the evacuees near the village of Cuevas Blancas, Jose Ramon Henriquez, told Reuters he had smelt the smoke around midday and called the emergency services.
“They told me they were already there trying to put the fire out but two hours later it broke out of control,” he said.
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