Hundreds are forced to flee their homes in Gran Canaria

Hundreds of people are being evacuated from their homes in the holiday island of Gran Canaria after plumes of smoke erupted in the mountains.

The fire, which has left firefighters ‘overwhelmed’, threatened to spiral out of control yesterday and has sprung up again this morning, destroying  900 hectares on the summit.  

Authorities have confirmed more troops are being called in to fight the ferocious blaze which is believed to have been started by a welder using a soldering iron at a house.

55-year-old man has been arrested by the Civil Guard.

Last night, the emergency had been downgraded to level 2 after firefighters believed they had got it under some sort of control but extra air help has now been called in.

In the last hours, Gran Canaria fire brigade has tweeted: ‘We are overwhelmed by the situation. We continue working and fighting for our island !!!’ 

Numerous villages have been evacuated and residents spent the night in municipal buildings such as sports centres, schools and community halls. 

The municipalities of Tejeda, Artenara and Gáldar are among the locations where people were told to leave their homes with the districts of Las Peñas, El Tablado, El Rincón, Juan Fernández, La Culata, Peña Rajada, Las Arbejas and Las Crucitas all affected. 

At least one campsite has been evacuated and the smoke is clearly visible from the air from all parts of the island and from Tenerife.

The fire started in Artenara which is in the western part of Gran Canaria in the mountains and about 20 miles from the capital of Las Palmas.

According to bulletins, the fire spread rapidly through the summit last night but there were hopes it was being brought under control.

This morning, the island’s council tweeted: ‘During the morning, 10 air means will be incorporated into the #IFArtenara extinction tasks at the #GRANCANARIA summit. 9 helicopters from different Administrations (State, Government and Cabildo) and an airplane will participate.’ 

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