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FIRE

WATCH: Firefighters contain blaze on Gran Canaria

Firefighters have managed to contain a fire raging on the Spanish holiday island of Gran Canaria which sparked the evacuation of hundreds of people, local officials said Monday.

WATCH: Firefighters contain blaze on Gran Canaria
Photos: AFP

“The containment efforts have borne fruit and the prospects are good,” Angel Victor Torres, the president of the regional government of the Canary Islands, told a press conference late Monday. 

However, the archipelago's emergency service warned that strong gusts of wind and an impending heatwave could fan the remaining embers into another fire.

“All the manpower will stay in place and 230 people will continue to work the land during the night,” it said in a tweet. 

The blaze had spread across 23 kilometres (14 miles) since erupting Saturday in the western municipality of Artenara near the provincial capital of Las Palmas. 

Some 250 firefighters and soldiers have been battling the wildfire.   

Around a dozen water bomber planes and helicopters were mobilised to help contain the blaze which has so far affected around 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of land, local emergency services said on Twitter.

Some 1,000 residents were evacuated over the weekend due to the threat from the flames but many were allowed to return to their homes on Monday. No one has been injured by the fire.

Police said they had detained a man on Saturday who is suspected of having started the fire by using welding equipment. 

Officials said the mountainous landscape of the volcanic island, a part of which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in July, had complicated the fight against the blaze.   

Temperatures are forecast to rise in the coming days in Gran Canaria, the second-most populous of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Africa.

Spain is frequently plagued by huge forest fires because of its arid climate in summer.

The Canary Islands received 13.7 million foreign visitors last year, over half of them from Britain and Germany.

READ MORE: Huge Gran Canaria fire sparks mass evacuation

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WEATHER

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.

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