Fires force evacuation of hundreds on Canaries


Forest fires swept across the small Canary Island of La Gomera on Saturday, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of people from their homes, local authorities said.

They said five fires had been declared in the rugged and mountainous island in Spain's Atlantic archipelago, which is popular with tourists, but there were no reports of injuries.

Three helicopters and dozens of volunteers were helping to extinguish the fires, while the Canary Islands government in Tenerife was sending teams of firefighters.

The defence ministry in Madrid also announced it had activated its Military Emergency Unit, which would send 50 soldiers to the island on Sunday morning to help battle the fires.

Hundreds of people on the island of around 20,000 residents were evacuated to a beach.

The flames were also threatening La Gomera's Garajonay National Park, authorities said.

They blamed hot weather and high winds for the fires on the densely wooded 378-square-kilometre island, the second smallest of the Canaries.