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  Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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Forest fires that swept Spain's Canary Islands over the past week have been brought under control and the situation has stabilized
Forest fires that swept Spain's Canary Islands over the past week have been brought under control and the situation has stabilized, thanks in part to the arrival of Russian firefighting helicopters, representatives of the local administration said Thursday. Some 15,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed by fires on Tenerife since Friday, but the worst affected is the island of Gran Canaria, where over 20,000 hectares of pineland has burned. "The fire on Gran Canaria, which swept over 20,000 hectares, has almost been put out. Firefighters have complete control of the situation," a spokesman for Gran Canaria administration said. The situation with fires on Tenerife is also stable and all those evacuated have begun returning to their homes. "There are no more open fire hotspots, and firefighting helicopters are working in places where smoke can be seen. We are in complete control of the situation," Ricardo Melchior, the chairman of Tenerife administration, told Spain's national radio. He added that the fire on the island might be the result of a crime committed by several people, whom the police are currently looking for. Melchior also said that the successful relief operation largely owed to Russian firefighting helicopters, as "the arrival of the best firefighting helicopters in the world inspired local firefighters and citizens." "These helicopters proved excellent in combating forest fires last year in Galicia [in the northwest of Spain], and now we pin all our hopes on them in efforts to save our forests," he said. Meanwhile, a correspondent for the Canarias24horas newspaper said Wednesday that Masca, a scenic village in the northeast of Tenerife Island, had been completely destroyed. The incident, he said, is a tragedy not only for people who lived in the village, but for all citizens of the island, as Masca was closely connected with their history and culture. Forest fires occur each summer in Spain and inflict considerable damage on nature and people. Last year, fires destroyed one-fifth of the forests in Galicia, and 12 firefighters died combating fires in Guadalajara, 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Madrid.
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