Man arrested for starting La Gomera forest fire

29th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The man apparently lost control of a fire he had started to burn wood cuttings on his land.

29 April 2008

MADRID - Civil Guard officers on Monday arrested a man on La Gomera accused of accidentally starting a forest fire that has put a UNESCO-listed national park in the Canary Island at risk.

The man apparently lost control of a fire he had started on Saturday to burn wood cuttings on his land near the village of Hermigua.

Driven by strong winds and helped by high temperatures, the blaze spread rapidly.

It forced the evacuation of local residents on Sunday and by Monday threatened the Garajonay National Park. By yesterday afternoon around 800 hectares of forest had been on Monday.

Local officials said on Monday that they were hoping for a change in the wind direction to save the park as hundreds of firefighters backed up by soldiers battled the blaze on multiple fronts.

The Environment Ministry has sent three fire-fighting planes from the Spanish mainland to help combat the blaze, in addition to four water-carrying helicopters already based in the Canary Islands.

Spanish forestry officials have warned that a combination of recent foliage growth due to heavy rains and expectations for a particularly dry summer could turn Spain's forests into a "powder keg" over the coming months.

[El Pais / ANP / Expatica]

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