Connect to share and comment

Spain's wildfires kill 2, force hundreds to evacuate overnight

Two firefighters have died trying to fight the blazes ravaging Spain and its Canary Islands.

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)

Two firefighters have died and hundreds have evacuated by ferry overnight as wildfires ravaging Spain and its Canary Islands continue to blaze.

One firefighter died Monday in Spain's Alicante city hospital from injuries sustained while trying to fight the region's fires, and another died there Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, a forest fire on La Gomera in Spain's Canary Islands forced almost 1,000 people to evacuate the island by ferry overnight, BBC News reported.

La Gomera's Valle Gran Rey is currently the worst affected area, and the fires there have blocked off road access and spread with the help of high winds and dry vegetation.

An additional 3,000 people assembled at Valle Gran Rey's port area on Monday in case the fire developed further, Candelaria Ceballos, spokeswoman for the Canary Island regional government, told reporters.

More from GlobalPost: Canary Islands forest fires force 4,700 out of their homes

In total, residents and tourists from 18 towns and villages have been forced to evacuate due to the continued blazes, the International Business Times reported. So far, around 5,000 people have fled from La Gomera and Tenerife, according to the IBT.

Some are concerned that the fires may have been started deliberately, including regional official Nancy Melo.

"It [the fire] had two focal points 3km apart that began burning vigorously within a short space of time from each other," she said, according to the IBT. 

However, wine producer Armenia Mendoza, one of the first people to report the fire, said it was "almost unthinkable" that a native islander would have lit the fire "on purpose."

The Canary Islands' regional government has asked for help from Spain, but the islands are 850 miles from Spain's southwestern tip, and it may take more than a day for backup firefighters to arrive on the Islands, according to the AP. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120813/spains-wildfires-kill-2-firefighters-force-evacuations