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Gran Canaria wildfires cause 9,000 to evacuate as flames tear through Canary Islands

2019-08-19

A helicopter operates over a wildfire in Canary Islands, Spain, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (Arturo Jimenez/AP)

Around 9,000 people in Gran Canaria have evacuated their homes as wildfires sweep through the Canary Islands.

Since the fires began Saturday in the Andén Ravine in the town of Vallesco, nearly 15,000 acres have burned, according to an update from the Canary Islands government early Monday.

Angel Victor Torres, president of the Canary Islands, said Sunday night that the wildfire was not under control.

“The blaze has not been contained or stabilized, nor it is under control; it is extremely fierce,” Torres said in a statement.

The Canary Island government said that around 1,000 people were working to put out the fires on Monday.

Helicopters and Air Tractor planes were used to discharge water above the blaze.

Pictures shared on social media from the city of Tejeda, which is in the central part of the Gran Canaria island, showed the blaze burning across the land.

The City of Tejeda said no homes had appeared damaged, but they would need to be inspected to make sure.

By Monday evening, around 546 people were unable to return to their homes, and 20 roads were still blocked off for emergency access, the Canary Islands Emergency Service said in an update.

The impact on tourism has been low, the government said.

Weather forecasts were expected to improve Monday night with the temperature dropping and humidity increasing, making the efforts to extinguish the fire more effective.