14 Aug 2012

Canary Island wildfires drive thousands from homes

7:55 pm on 14 August 2012

Wildfires have driven thousands of people from their homes near a rare nature reserve in Spain's Canary Islands after a separate mainland blaze killed two.

Firefighters are struggling to control the flames that engulfed the wooded hillsides on the island of La Gomera, reducing lush green trees to black dust, spewing grey smoke and displacing residents and tourists.

That fire started more than a week ago and has devastated more than 4,000 hectares of land, including hundreds of hectares in the Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that is home to rare subtropical plants.

Water-bombing aircraft are trying to douse the flames.

On the Spanish mainland, near the south-eastern city of Alicante, a forest fire killed two firefighters.