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Tourists Warned Over Canary Wildfires

Firefighter Battling FireOn Monday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warned British holidaymakers about the dangers that can arise from wildfires. This comes as such destruction has hit the Canary Islands, forcing thousands of people from their homes and tourists to flee. Expats and travellers have been advised to take extra care, as the wildfires rage in Tenerife and La Gomera.

Hundreds of firefighters, planes and helicopters have been used to battle the blazes in Tenerife, which attracts 1.5 million British holidaymakers every year. Most of the Brits who holiday in Tenerife stay at resorts on the south coast – like Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos – and these are 20 miles from where the wildfires are occurring. This has meant that they haven’t been affected.

In its travel advice, the FCO warns that there are reports of forest fires around Valle Gran Rey, Las Hayas, El Contadero, Los Manantiales, El Cercado, Chipude, Banda Las Rosas, El Cruce de las Hayas and Arure – all on the island of La Gomera. Forest fires have also been reported on the island of Tenerife around: Las Portelas, El Tanque, Masca, Ruigomez, Erjos, San Jose de los Llanos, Valle de Arriba, El Palmar, Lagunetas and Teno Alto.

The FCO added that several local residents have been evacuated as a precaution, while several roads have also been closed to allow emergency services to access the areas. Despite the road closures, other travel hasn’t been affected – including air travel to both islands. However, some excursions have been cancelled. Locals and visitors should check the Canary government website to get updates on the situation.

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) spokesman Sean Tipton says they and their members are monitoring the Tenerife and La Gomera forest fires closely. They are also watching the fires in northern Spain’s Galicia and on the Greek island of Kefalonia. Resorts haven’t been hit with the fires, he added, but tour operators have suspended some excursions on Tenerife as a precaution.

With roads and power lines getting cut off, about 2,200 people have been evacuated from their homes in Tenerife’s northwest. At least 13 villages with 5,000 people in La Gomera have been evacuated – this is about 25% of the population. The town of Valle Gran Rey was evacuated at the weekend due to fears it would be burned down. The evacuation included about 900 tourists and locals. About 3,000 others were gathered at a port to find out if they had to leave the island as well.

About 7,400 hectares of land has been destroyed by the fires in La Gomera. This includes a big part of Garajonay National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage site. It has over 450 plant species and prehistoric woodland that dates back 11 million years. Officials say it will take at least 30 years for the affected area to recover.

However, more fires have been sparked on the Spanish mainland as well, with ten wildfires reported as of Sunday. Two firefighters have been killed in the battle against blazes in Alicante. One of the firefighters died at a city hospital on Sunday, and the other died on Monday. Two other firefighters were injured and being treated in a hospital.



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