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Canary Islands

Canary Islands

Canary Islands

Firefighters are battling a forest fire on La Gomera in Spain's Canary Islands which forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people by ferry overnight.

The worst affected area on La Gomera is Valle Gran Rey. Road access has been cut by the fire, which has spread with high winds and tinder-dry vegetation.

Two boats took 910 people from Valle Gran Rey to La Gomera's main town, San Sebastian. In all, more than 5,000 have been evacuated since Friday.

A smaller area is ablaze on Tenerife.

On La Gomera - a less popular holiday destination than Tenerife - officials say the fire has destroyed part of a nature reserve with "incalculable ecological value".

Spanish media say about 3,000 people have fled their homes in the Valle Gran Rey area. There are no reports of casualties, but the damage to homes has not yet been assessed.

Evacuees are being accommodated temporarily in a school gymnasium.

Spain has been hard hit by forest fires after its driest winter in 70 years. Temperatures on the Canary Islands have soared recently as high as 40C (104 Fahrenheit).

On La Gomera, the flames have consumed about 300 hectares (740 acres) of woodland in the Garajonay nature reserve, a Unesco World Heritage site, some of which is believed to have been in existence for millions of years. Officials have already said it will take at least three decades for the burned areas of the reserve to recover.

On the mainland, villages have been evacuated in the Galician province of Ourense as more forest fires rage out of control.

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