Parts of Gran Canaria, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Canary Islands, remain inaccessible due to raging wildfires. A fire that broke out on Saturday has spread across the north of the island, leading to large scale evacuations.
What started off as a small fire in a ravine near Valleseco town has now led to the evacuation of around 8,000 people.
Apart from Valleseco, the municipalities of Moya, Gáldar, Agaete, San Mateo, Artenara, and Tejeda have been evacuated. 40 people in Artenara have been told to stay in their homes as evacuation for them will be possible once the situation is under control.
A team of 700 firefighters continues to battle the blaze with the help of two planes and nine fire fighting helicopters. Approximately 800,000 litres (approximately 210,000 gallons) of water have been dropped over the affected areas. More air support has been deployed to support and coordinate the fire fighting efforts. Due to the unstable conditions on the ground, fire fighting teams are unable to approach the blaze. Water bombing is the safest way in which the fire fighting efforts can be continued.
The fire has become uncontrollable due to multiple reasons. A combination of strong winds, extremely high temperatures and low humidity have created ideal conditions for the flames to thrive.
Flames have already severely damaged the natural reserve of Tamadaba. Efforts are being focused to prevent the flames from damaging the east and west flanks where residences are concentrated.
Canary Islands' Regional President Angel Victor Torres, in a press conference, stated that the fire is not contained, nor stabilised or controlled. He continued to assure that the safety of the people is the priority.
Last week, the island had battled a wildfire of lesser magnitude near the town of Tejeda. However, the scale of damage caused by this week's wildfire is far larger. Hotels have been shut down and tourists are being evacuated to safety.
Authorities, residents, and tourists are awaiting an improvement in the weather conditions.