Gran Canaria authorities declare Tasarte fire under control

Photo: Gran Canaria Cabildo.

Updated 26 February: Their optimism last night was evidently well founded, and today the Gran Canaria Cabildo has declared the Tasarte fire under control. They are now working to declare it extinguished, and expect this final process to take a few days. This is the beginning of the end for the fire, though, and with damage much less than was considered possible at some dark moments. And tonight the Cabildo has gifted us this picture of a 100-year-old Canarian pine in Inagua, an environmental agent celebrating its survival!

Updated 8pm: Excellent news tonight from Gran Canaria where the authorities say that there are no longer any flames visible, the tireless work throughout the day by air and on the ground has been intense, but it’s achieved the best result possible. No-one is resting tonight, however, and the work continues with dealing with hotspots and smoke, and damping down. As the authorities say, they are not lowering their guard, but they are very optimistic now!

Updated 25 February: There is hope this morning as weather conditions improve and ground crews can at last be supported by helicopters and the two sea planes that have now arrived. The Cabildo in Gran Canaria has released this video of conditions this morning.

Updated 24 February: At first light, an army Military Emergencies crew of 85 left Seville for Gran Canaria to join firefighting efforts which continue today. There are now 176 military personnel in the island to assist local crews which are themselves supplemented by bomberos from Tenerife and La Palma. Last night is said to have been extremely difficult for firefighters, who have worked ceaselessly to deal with one of the most active fronts which has reactivated near Tasarte. Secondary blazes have broken out and some points have had to be abandoned since conditions were such that firefighters could have been surrounded and trapped. Canarian President Torres says that the greatest worry now is the Reserva Natural de Inagua where this morning a little rain has fallen, and even though it is mucky and full of dust, it is rain, and welcome as such. Tonight, two sea planes will arrive to start assisting firefighting efforts now that conditions have improved sufficiently for them to help safely.

Updated 4.30pm: Sadly, things have not improved, and now the El hoyo and Tocodomán areas are preparing to evacuate. The fire has now spread to Inagua with the wind sending it towards La Aldea and Tejeda. Again. What a tragedy.  

Updated 23 February: The wild winds and calima-collapsed humidity have made firefighting very difficult in Gran Canaria overnight and this morning. Not least of the problems is that firefighting aircraft are struggling to carry out their manoeuvres safely. The army’s emergency unit has been called in as is quite normal for such blazes, and are adding to the ground efforts, which continue this afternoon in horrendous conditions. Some residents remain in accommodation centres, and one village was cordoned off because it couldn’t be evacuated – a ring of bomberos formed to defend them in their very houses. The public is asked to abide by all official notices, advice and instructions, with the Cabildo saying they hope – but can’t “expect” – things to improve this afternoon and, possibly, with the fire able to be classified as “under control”. Let’s hope so.

Original post 22 February: Many will remember last August’s devastating fire in Gran Canaria (see HERE), and tonight, in almost equally horrendous conditions, firefighting teams are back in action dealing with a blaze fanned by the very high winds forecast for the Canaries as a whole, and the extremely low humidity of around 30% that calimas bring with them. Some residents have been evacuated and, sadly, some houses have been burnt. The Cabildo has said, however, that despite the ferocious gusts of wind, 60% of this fire’s perimeter is stabilized. The problem is with the front near Tasarte towards Tasartico and, especially, the barranco to the west. Teams are currently working in dreadful conditions to contain that front of some 600m in a situation that is said with typical understatement from the heroic firefighters, to be “difficult”.  Once again, we go to bed and give a prayer for Gran Canaria.

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