Thursday, August 15, 2013

Latest: Fire on La Gomera again. Arson! +UPDATES

For the past while the hydro-plane newly stationed at La Gomera's small aiport has been flying to and fro past my view and it has been confirmed that a fire has broken out near the small and remote chapel of Santa Clara high up the mountain belonging to, and overlooking the town of Vallehermoso in La Gomeras north-west. the fire was started less than a kilometre from the village of Arguamul in an area overgrown with small trees and bushes. There is semi-mature forest close by and the place borders onto the national park.
Photo taken just now at about 6:30pm
The Canary Islands are on the highest fire-alert level because of the intense heat in the mountains and on Tenerife and on La Gomera many areas have been closed to the public.The festivities of the 'Virgen de Candelaria', the Canaries' national patron saint in conjunction with today's bank holiday make observation of suspicious activity very difficult as thousands of people are on the move and celebrating all over the island(s). Emergency services are stretched and as I write a group of 'lost and dehydrated' hikers is being escorted down the mountain path outside my door. This morning a cyclist was seriously injured in a fall when speeding down a mountain road...
This new fire was most likely caused by arson:
Incendiary device found near fire. Image:
During a search of the areas near the fire two incendiary devices were found in different states of preparation ! This leaves me sad and angry...
UPDATE 8:30pm
The fire is still not under control, but it is hoped that the current absence of wind will allow to stop the fire from spreading before darkness will force the retirement of the four helicopters plus the Air Tractor plane. One of the helicopters is a double-rotor Russian Kamov normally based on the island of Tenerife which also brought reinforcements for the firefighters on the ground. The area of the fire is very difficult to access on the ground and it is hoped the wind will not rise to further complicate the situation. The weather forecast for tomorrow is not favourable with rising winds expected.
The mayor of Vallehermoso has just said now that 'the fire has been stabilized' and that it appears to be closer to being controlled. Let's hope he's right.
Now the island's government has confirmed that the fire 'has been stabilised, but not controlled'.
+ 9:12pm (it is nearly dark now): The latest eyewitness report says that no more flames can be seen, but still a lot of smoke. The aircraft have retired due to advancing darkness, but work on the ground continues.
Images taken earlier and published by '' below:
Chapel of Santa Clara in the background (
Kamov at work (
The authorities have called on everyone to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity in the countryside or signs of fire immediately. Call 112 (English spoken).
There was a dangerous bushfire on the neighbouring island of La Palma tonight which has by now been ''brought practically under control''. It broke out very close to the town of Tijarafe and an investigation is underway establish the cause. The bitter irony is that a brigade of firefighters was earlier sent from La Palma to La Gomera to assist fighting the fire here, which appears to be 'under control' as well by now. 
Update Aug.16th, 9:45 am:
The fire remains 'stabilised but not controlled' due to the difficult terrain and the adverse weather conditions. At daybreak the temperature in the area was already 29ºC and the humidity extremely low at 18%. The wind has increased to moderate since yesterday's calm.
The 'Fire Boss' plane is in action again and is now regularly taking up sea water from Valle Gran Rey's harbour. Yesterday it appeared to be taking fresh water from the airport.
+ 4 pm:
Official bulletins confirm that the fire remains as in the last update, but there are remaining hot spots and glowing embers. These danger areas are being dealt with by the firefighters on the ground with a helicopter and the Air Tractor Fireboss now remaining on standby at the airport. The weather hasn't improved and if anything has got worse. Again the authorities reiterate their appeal for extreme caution and vigilance in any vulnerable areas.
Update Aug.17th, 11 am:
The fire finally has been declared 'controlled'. 
A smaller brigade of firefighters will keep watch and deal with any remaining danger. A picture of another incendiary device has emerged. The device which thankfully failed to ignite fully was made up of a fuse of highly flammable material, plastics, dry leaves and newspaper. The newspaper page on top is readable and contains an article about the disastrous fire in August last year (2012) under the pre-header ''Environmental catastrophe on La Gomera''. This was intended to be used to start another fire ! Very sick indeed !

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