Eintime Conversion for education and research 10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18
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11,000 evacuated in Canary Island fires

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Spain (AP) — More than 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Tuesday in the Canary Islands as firefighters struggled to extinguish fires on two of the archipelago's popular tourist islands.

About 6,000 people were evacuated from homes on Tenerife, where fires have burned 11,000 acres of forest on the western part of the island since Monday, said Paulino Rivero, the president of the Canary Islands regional government.

He described the situation as "dramatic."

Winds of 40 miles per hour and temperatures up to 104 degrees were spreading the flames across the treetops. Tenerife authorities were fighting fires on four fronts, only one of which was under control. Many roads were closed.

On Gran Canaria island, a four-day-old fire has charred 24,700 acres of woodland in the southwest Mogan region. About 5,200 people, including some tourists, were evacuated as dozens of homes were engulfed by flames, a Gran Canaria emergency official said.

The fire has burned 65% of the Palmitos bird sanctuary park, and authorities feared that toucans and other exotic birds may have been killed, the national news agency Efe reported. Army troops, along with eight firefighting aircraft, were trying to smother the blaze.

On Saturday, police said they arrested a 37-year-old forest ranger who admitted starting the Gran Canaria fire, saying his job contract was about to expire.

There are seven islands in the Canary Island archipelago, located off Africa's northwest coast.

(Original Len: 1906 Condensed Len: 1978)

10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18