Canary Islands hit by fierce forest fires: holidaymakers warned
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British tourists are being urged to stay in touch with the Foreign Office as wildfires rage in the Canary Islands, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents, reports the Press Association.
Fires on the Canary islands of La Gomera and Tenerife, both favourites among UK holidaymakers, have led to the evacuation of more than 4,000 residents and the cutting off of many roads as precautionary measures, the regional government said.
As of Sunday afternoon, residents were being kept out of 18 towns and villages - eight on Tenerife and 10 on La Gomera. The fires are also threatening some of Spain's most treasured national parks, including a Unesco world heritage site.
The Foreign Office said it is keeping a close eye on developments. A spokesman said: "We are aware of the reports, which we are monitoring closely and we are advising British nationals to stay in touch."
Regional officials said there was evidence that the fire on La Gomera was started deliberately as it had two focal points two miles apart that began burning within a short time of each other.
On La Gomera, one of the less popular tourist destinations in the Canaries, is Garajonay National Park, a world heritage site. It contains prehistoric woodland, dating back 11 million years, according to experts.
Aircraft that were previously dousing the fires with water when they first broke out a week ago were sent away as it was thought the fire was under control but winds and high temperatures have helped rekindle the flames, an official said.
Two firefighters have died while battling a wildfire in Alicante, in the east of the Spanish mainland, an emergency official said. One firefighter died on Monday and another on Sunday in an Alicante city hospital.
News of the deaths came as hundreds of people were evacuated from La Gomera by boat. Nearly 1,000 people were evacuated from the town of Valle Gran Rey on the island as authorities feared fires in surrounding hills could engulf the town.