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Europe

Thousands evacuated from island as forest fires rage

©

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-02

Firefighters fought wildfires raging on one of Spain's Canary Islands on Saturday, with some 4,000 people evacuated from their homes on the island of La Palma.

AFP - Some 4,000 people were evacuated from their homes on one of Spain's Canary Islands Saturday as forest fires raged out of control, local officials said.
  
Around 250 firefighters and forest guards on the island of La Palma were battling the flames which were spreading on three fronts, fanned by strong winds.
  
Local authorities said they are hoping that cooler weather and less wind forecast for Sunday would help firefighters to get the blazes under control.
  
La Palma is the fifth largest of the seven islands in the Canaries, located in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco and a popular tourist destination.
  
Meanwhile, authorities in Spain's northeastern region of Aragon said fires raging out of control near the town of Calatayud have destroyed some 500 hectares of forest.
  
They said police have arrested two people in connection with that blaze.
  
Spain lost 155,000 hectares to fire in 2005 and another 188,000 hectares in 2006 but was spared major wildfire damage in the past two years, the exception being the Canaries which suffered major blazes in 2007.
  
Since the start of this year, fires have ravaged some 75,000 hectares of land in Spain, almost double the number for the whole of 2008, the government said on Friday.
  
Of that, some 45,000 hectares have been destroyed in the past two weeks.
  
Eight people, six of them firefighters, have died in the fires since last month.

Date created : 2009-08-01

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