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Canary Islands forest fires force 4,700 out of their homes

The Canary Islands have been hit by severe forest fires following Spain's driest winter in 70 years.

Canary islands firesEnlarge
Smoke rises from wild fires raging on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. Some 4,700 residents of the Canary Islands have been evacuated as wild fires continue to rage. (Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images)

The Canary Islands are battling forest fires that have caused around 4,700 people to evacuate their homes. 

Spanish firefighters are struggling to contain the blazes as high temperatures and strong winds spur on the flames, BBC News reported.

A statement issued to reporters said that officials were “finding it difficult to limit the spread of fire," the Associated Press reported

“We are living through hell, we have asked the central government for more resources with which to fight the fire,” said Casimimo Curbelo, local government leader of La Gomera, according to the AP. 

The fires are the worst the Islands, which are located off the coast of Morocco, have experienced in at least a decade, and follow the driest winter in 70 years, Deutsche Welle reported

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They have destroyed over 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of land on the island of La Gomera where they first broke out a week ago, including a section of UNESCO World Heritage site Garajonay nature reserve, Agence France Presse reported

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The fires on neighboring island Tenrife have spread over around 370 hectares, Deutsche Welle reported. 

"It is going to be a difficult day for everyone, most of all for those fighting the fire," Jan Manuel Santana, the regional head of the Canary Islands emergency services, told reporters in Tenrife on Sunday.

Ventura del Carmen Rodriguez, The environmental secretary for the island of La Gomera, said it would take at least 30 years for Garajonay to recover from the damage caused by the blaze, UPI reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120812/canary-islands-forest-fires-evacuations