Photo: Gran Canaria Cabildo.
Updated 24 February: At first light, an army Military Emergencies crew of 85 left Seville for Gran Canaria to join firefighting efforts which continue today. There are now 176 military personnel in the island to assist local crews which are themselves supplemented by bomberos from Tenerife and La Palma. Last night is said to have been extremely difficult for firefighters, who have worked ceaselessly to deal with one of the most active fronts which has reactivated near Tasarte. Secondary blazes have broken out and some points have had to be abandoned since conditions were such that firefighters could have been surrounded and trapped. Canarian President Torres says that the greatest worry now is the Reserva Natural de Inagua where this morning a little rain has fallen, and even though it is mucky and full of dust, it is rain, and welcome as such. Tonight, two sea planes will arrive to start assisting firefighting efforts now that conditions have improved sufficiently for them to help safely.
Updated 4.30pm: Sadly, things have not improved, and now the El hoyo and Tocodomán areas are preparing to evacuate. The fire has now spread to Inagua with the wind sending it towards La Aldea and Tejeda. Again. What a tragedy.
Updated 23 February: The wild winds and calima-collapsed humidity have made firefighting very difficult in Gran Canaria overnight and this morning. Not least of the problems is that firefighting aircraft are struggling to carry out their manoeuvres safely. The army’s emergency unit has been called in as is quite normal for such blazes, and are adding to the ground efforts, which continue this afternoon in horrendous conditions. Some residents remain in accommodation centres, and one village was cordoned off because it couldn’t be evacuated – a ring of bomberos formed to defend them in their very houses. The public is asked to abide by all official notices, advice and instructions, with the Cabildo saying they hope – but can’t “expect” – things to improve this afternoon and, possibly, with the fire able to be classified as “under control”. Let’s hope so.
Original post 22 February: Many will remember last August’s devastating fire in Gran Canaria (see HERE), and tonight, in almost equally horrendous conditions, firefighting teams are back in action dealing with a blaze fanned by the very high winds forecast for the Canaries as a whole, and the extremely low humidity of around 30% that calimas bring with them. Some residents have been evacuated and, sadly, some houses have been burnt. The Cabildo has said, however, that despite the ferocious gusts of wind, 60% of this fire’s perimeter is stabilized. The problem is with the front near Tasarte towards Tasartico and, especially, the barranco to the west. Teams are currently working in dreadful conditions to contain that front of some 600m in a situation that is said with typical understatement from the heroic firefighters, to be “difficult”. Once again, we go to bed and give a prayer for Gran Canaria.