Tuesday 20 August 2019

Thousands forces to flee their homes as wildfire sweeps across central Gran Canaria.

Around 9000 people have been forced to flee their homes as a wildfire sweeps across the northwest part of central Gran Canaria this week. The fire started near the town of Tejeda on Saturday 17 July 2019, and has so far proved impossible to bring under control. The fire has destroyed about sixty square kilometres of land cover in a mountainous region largely covered by wooded ravines, much of it in the ancient Pine forests of the Tamadaba Natural Park. There are no reports of any injuries at this time, but it is thought that several hundred homes have been destroyed.

Fire burning near El Rincón on Gran Canaria on 18 August 2019. Cabildo de Gran Canaria/AP.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, though local authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility that it may have been deliberately set, but it has spread rapidly due to a combination of exceptionally high temperatures in the area (over 40°C), combined with low humidity and high winds. Flames in excess of 50 m high have been reported, which helps the fire jump to new places. Pine forests are particularly prone to fires, as Pines produce a large number of long, flammable needles, which drop to the ground around the trees, causing any fires to burn rapidly and intensely.

Fire fighters trying to tackle a wildfire on Gran Canaria this week. AP.

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