Spain’s Worst Fire This Year Engulfs 25,000 Acres on a Canary Island

MADRID — Hundreds of firefighters were struggling on Tuesday to bring under control a forest fire on one of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the northwestern coast of Africa, as the blaze forced the evacuation of about 9,000 people.

Luis Planas, Spain’s agriculture minister, said the fire was the country’s worst this year.

The blaze, which started on Saturday, has destroyed nearly 25,000 acres on the island of Gran Canaria, the second most populated of the Canary archipelago, with about 850,000 residents. The archipelago is one of Spain’s main tourist destinations, particularly during the European winter because of the islands’ mild climate.

The land engulfed by the fire includes part of Tamadaba National Park, which is home to several types of indigenous trees and plants.

Mr. Planas said on Tuesday that additional resources were being deployed to help contain the blaze, including drones, helicopters and an additional firefighting aircraft.

Ángel Víctor Torres, the president of the Canary Islands’ regional government, said on Tuesday that there were signs that the fire was slowing its advance, after “miraculously” not reaching Inagua, another national park south of Tamadaba, overnight. Inagua was partly burned down in another major fire in 2007.

ImageA fleet of 16 aircraft dropped over 200,000 gallons of water onto the fire on Monday.
CreditBorja Suarez/Reuters

“This is the best news that we could have received,” Mr. Torres told Onda Cero, a Spanish radio station, about the apparent deceleration. “Today is a very important day in which we must make use of the good luck that we had overnight.”

Mr. Torres said that the police had opened an investigation into the fire, which he noted was the third this month on Gran Canaria. One of the other fires was arson, he said, and one was accidentally set off, according to preliminary investigations.

On Monday, a fleet of 16 aircraft dropped over 200,000 gallons of water onto the latest fire, while about 500 firefighters fought flames that at times reached more than 160 feet high.

Spain has been among the European countries hit hardest in recent years by forest fires, which have been proliferated amid hotter summers and more frequent heat waves on the Continent.

Gran Canaria was among the areas of Spain to be placed under orange alert — the country’s second highest warning level for fire risk — last week as temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit). The weather forecast for Tuesday was more favorable, and with less wind than on previous days.

In late June, about 25,000 acres were destroyed by fires in other parts of Spain, including a blaze in the northeastern region of Catalonia that investigators believe started on a chicken farm, where stored manure combusted because of the heat.

Over all, though, Spain has suffered fewer deadly fires in the past decade than neighboring Portugal. In the most serious blaze in that country, 66 people died in 2017 outside the town of Pedrógão Grande. Most of them were trapped in their cars after flames blocked the road as they tried to flee.

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