Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wildfires rage in Spain and islands

Wildfires fanned by fierce winds and high temperatures have raged across a western Spanish region and on the Canary Islands, threatening to cut off phone contact with one island and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people, officials said.

A 35-year-old man from an army emergency services unit died in a vehicle accident while battling the wildfires in the Extremadura region, and three others were injured. A fourth firefighter had to be treated after inhaling smoke.

About 300 holidaymakers had to be evacuated from a campsite in the heavily wooded hills of the Sierra de Gata area near the Portuguese border, said Extremadura Interior Ministry spokesman German Lopez Iglesias.

Forest fires were also raging on the Canary Islands of La Gomera and La Palma and there were hundreds more evacuations there, said Javier Gonzalez Ortiz, a security official for the islands off the north-west coast of Africa.

A statement on the Canary Islands government website said a large fire had affected the south-eastern area around Villa de Mazo in La Palma, where some 70 people had been moved to safety by the Red Cross and close to 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) had been affected by flames.

"Firefighters are finding the greatest difficulty in La Gomera," and at least 600 people had been evacuated, the statement said. Read More