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Spain wildfires turn deadly
Aircraft dump water on the hillsides of Alicante and the Canary Islands, two of the areas badly hit by summer blazes.
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2012 22:25
The government says 132,300 hectares of land have been burnt so far this year with blazes across the country [AFP]

One person has been killed and three injured as firefighters battled wildfires across Spain, authorities say, the latest victims in a sweltering summer of forest blazes.

The victim died on Sunday fighting a blaze in woods near the southeastern city of Alicante, while there and on the Canary Islands aircraft dumped water on the hillsides to douse flames that have driven thousands from their homes.

As the fires on the Canaries raged along with smaller blazes around the country, the latest major blaze broke out north of Alicante in the Torre de les Macanes pine woods where the firefighter died, the regional government said.

The fire "is still active in an area of adult pines", a spokeswoman for the emergency services said.

The flames have charred more than 600 hectares on La Gomera and some 370 hectares on Tenerife since they revived on Friday after devastating 3,000 hectares earlier in the week, the regional government said.

Serafin Castellano, regional government official, said authorities evacuated 130 children from a camp in the area as a precaution.

Hectares ravaged

On the Atlantic islands of La Gomera and Tenerife, part of the Canaries archipelago, fires that have ravaged thousands of hectares of land burned on out of control Sunday, authorities said.

On la Gomera, "work is under way to prevent the fire advancing towards the populated areas of Vallehermoso" in the north and further into Garajonay National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, the regional government said in a statement.

Elderly villagers on La Gomera had spent the night in hotels and student halls after more than 4,700 people were evacuated since Friday.

Since the fire first started a week ago, a total of nearly 800 hectares have been burned inside the Garajonay reserve, home to rare subtropical forests, it said.

The head of the Canary Islands emergency services Juan Manuel Santana told a news conference that high temperatures and low humidity on Sunday made it harder to control the blaze.

At particular risk

Spain is at particular risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years. Temperatures have topped 40 degrees in recent days.

Last month four people were killed by a wildfire in the northern Catalonia region.

The Spanish government says 132,300 hectares of land have been burnt so far this year and blazes have broken out across the country in recent days.

In Vallehermoso, 150 people who fled nearby villages overnight spent the night in hotels and school accommodation. Many others were housed by friends and relatives.

On the mainland, officials in the northwestern Galicia region said that among a series of wildfires there, the biggest had ravaged 1,200 hectares.

Several other fires were reported, from Catalonia in the north to the Cabaneros national park in central Spain and another near the Donana park in Andalucia in the south.

Meanwhile in Greece, rainfall overnight helped hundreds of firefighters to bring a blaze under control near Mount Athos, another World Heritage site housing a remote monastic community.

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Source:
Agencies
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