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Gran Canaria forest fire is controlled and put out as residents return to their homes

Flames earlier this week in the centre of Gran Canaria.
Flames earlier this week in the centre of Gran Canaria. / EFE
  • A man from Telde has been released on bail while he is investigated for starting the fire while carrying out some soldering

The man thought to be behind the huge forest blaze that has destroyed a large part of inland Gran Canaria since last weekend managed to avoid jail on Tuesday by paying the 25,000-euro bail ordered by a judge.

The 55-year old man is from the Telde area of the island. He is accused of having started the fire through an act of negligence. It swept through 1,500 hectares (15 square kilometres) and forced 1,000 locals from three villages to leave their homes.

It is claimed that the unnamed local started the fire when he was carrying out some soldering near to a house on the open hillside. However, he may not be the only one eventually accused of starting a forest fire in Gran Canaria in the last week. The Guardia Civil are trying to gather enough clues to find the person who, supposedly taking advantage of the fact that all fire-fighting resources were being used on the first fire, started another blaze on the island's mountainous terrain near Telde at 10pm on Monday night.

The whole firefighting operation was forced to move to that area and, despite the success of that exercise, a further 160 hectares were destroyed in just a few hours and 50 local residents had to be evacuated. Local authorities have asked for the support of residents in finding the culprit, stating that somebody has been regularly starting a fire in the summer in that second area since the 1970s.

By midweek, the main fire, the first one to start in the centre of the island, was also under control although the more-than-500 emergency workers had to intervene to put out several new outbreaks due to high winds on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Fourteen firefighting planes and helicopters were used to douse down the fire. By Tuesday the last local residents were able to return to their homes in the mountain village of Tejeda in the centre of the island.

The regional government has said it will work to rehabilitate the damaged area, where trees taking up to 50 years to regrow have burned.