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Gran Canaria towns evacuated as wildfire rages

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MADRID (Reuters) – About 1,000 people were unable to return home in Gran Canaria on Sunday after several towns were evacuated as a vast wildfire spread towards a National Park and an area popular with holidaymakers on the Spanish island, emergency services said.

Firefighters used planes and helicopters to fight the fierce blaze about 20 miles from the capital Las Palmas. The fire poses a threat to several towns as well as the Tamadaba national park on the west of the island, authorities said on Twitter.

Witness Carla Rodriguez described the scene as “one of the most painful images I’ve seen in my life”.

Rodriguez was heading to Juncalillo with some friends for a local festival.

“The first time I saw the fire we were reaching the diversion to Juncalillo and I realised how close it was. I did not expect it, since I had read that it was under control in different areas,” Rodriguez told Reuters. 

“But after the party, when we returned, we decided to look again to see how much the fire had progressed and seeing it out of control was devastating. The tears came out since I love nature and seeing it burn that way was quite worrying.“ 

Police said they believe the fire was started by someone using a soldering iron. A 55-year-old man was arrested on Saturday.

(Reporting by Sam Edwards; Editing by David Goodman)

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