LAS PALMAS, Spain – The majority of the almost 5,000 people who were evacuated due to the fire that for 10 days has been devastating the Spanish island of La Gomera have been able to return to their homes, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
Around 185 people have not yet been allowed to return.
A change in wind direction during the night slowed the spread of the flames while teams of firefighters are being backed up by five cistern airplanes and seven helicopters.
Officials with the Emergency Coordination Center of the regional government of the Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, told Efe on Tuesday that all the evacuees had been authorized on Monday night to return to their homes, with the exception of those living in the area including Vallehermoso, Las Hayas, Banda de Rosas, Los Loros and the 39 homes in the Valle Gran Rey ravine that were reached by the fire.
The worst moments of the fire came in the wee hours of Monday, when it was necessary to evacuate about 5,000 people – a fourth of the island’s population – in the municipalities of Valle Gran Rey and Vallehermoso.
The fire has burned more than 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres), 11 percent of the land area of the island, a designated biosphere reserve.
Of the area burned by the fire, some 750 hectares (1,875 acres) are in the Garajonay National Park and this amounts to 25 percent of its total area.
The park is a World Heritage Site by virtue of its humid semi-tropical forest and its terrace cultivation.
The fires this year in Spain have burned more than 132,000 hectares (330,000 acres) and killed eight people. EFE