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Firefighter dies battling Spain wildfires

Another blaze in the Canary Islands led hundreds to evacuate by sea

Gulf News

La Gomera, Spain: A fierce wildfire raging through southeastern Spain Monday claimed the life of its second victim, a firefighter, while another blaze in the Canary Islands led hundreds to evacuate by sea.

The firefighter was taken to hospital on Sunday after being injured while fighting a forest fire near the southeastern city of Alicante, an official said.

He died in hospital in the early hours, a government spokeswoman for the region said, as firefighters backed by aircraft fought intense flames in the pine forest of Torre de les Macanes.

“The fire is still active,” she added.

The same fire claimed a first victim on Sunday, an as-yet unidentified member of the firefighting team. Two other firefighters are in hospital.

On the Atlantic archipelago of the Canary Islands, a hugely popular tourist destination, aircraft fought flames engulfing a ravine on the western side of the small, circular island of Gomera.

The fire, fanned by warm winds, raced through the tinder-dry cane and pasture in the ravine by Valle Gran Rey, leading to the evacuation of nearby areas.

Some 3,000 people, including many visitors, grouped in the western port of Puerto de Vueltas, far from the flames, the Canary Islands government said in a written update.

Those who wanted to leave had to be ferried off by boat because the road was cut off, the government said. A ship took 629 people to the eastern side of the island on Sunday night and another 281 early Monday.

“The fire remains active and 10 aircraft — planes and helicopters — will intervene during the day,” said a spokeswoman for the Canary Islands emergency services.

Spain is at particular risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years. Temperatures, which topped 40 degrees Celsius in recent days, fell around most of the country on Sunday.

Last month four people were killed by a wildfire in the northern Catalonia region.