Map of the fire area on Gran Canaria
20 Aug 2019

Monster wildfire threatened tourist areas and evacuated 9000 on Gran Canaria


The forest fire that began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda has been spreading on two fronts in the mountainous part of the island. About 700 firefighters have been fighting the fire, which has been spreading uncontrollably over the island.

Gran Canaria is often described as a "holiday island", however, it is also home to more than 1 million permanent residents. The island´s close to 2000 meter tall peaks and mountains that cover the majority of the island makes firefighting extremely challenging. 

The island is located off the west coast of Africa and belongs to Spain. The standard of living is high and fire fighting resources are good - however, the time to mobilize extra resources can be staggering due to the large distance from the Spanish mainland.

About 10 000 people were evacuated by Monday, but by Tuesday evening the fire was more or less under control and the first residents were allowed to go back home.

Late Sunday, about 3,400 hectares had been burned, but during the night the number of damaged land was reportedly closer to double - 6,000 hectares, writes the local news site Canarias 7.

By the time the fire was under control late Tuesday, around 12 to 13 000 hectares had been struck by the fire.

According to regional president Ángel Víctor Torres, the risk is imminent for the fire to spread further. 

- We are facing a complicated situation where people's safety is a priority, he said according to The Independent.

The fire that occurred on Saturday near the city of Tejeda had spread on two fronts, in the northwest the fire reached the Tamadaba National Park, and further south it threatens the municipality of Mogán, according to local media.


"Can't stop it"

About 700 firefighters have been tackling the fire. 14 water bomber aircraft  and helicopters also participate in the operation. Their work is hampered by weather conditions with temperatures above 30 degrees, very dry air and strong winds.

The authorities therefore warn that it may take days before the fire is completely under control.

- We can't do more than we do. It's not a coordination problem, it's a capacity problem. We cannot stop such a big fire, says Ángel Víctor Torres.