Wildfires have forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and on Sunday were threatening some of Spain's most precious natural parks, including a Unesco world heritage site.
The evacuation of more than 4,000 residents on La Gomera and Tenerife in the Canary Islands began late on Saturday and many roads were closed as a precaution, the regional government said. On Sundayesidents were not being allowed to return to eight towns and villages on the tourist island of Tenerife and 10 on La Gomera, the government said.
A statement said firefighters were finding it difficult to limit the spread of fire. "We are living through hell, we have asked the central government for more resources with which to fight the fire," said Casimimo Curbelo, the local government leader of La Gomera.
At the heart of his island lies Garajonay national park, which experts say contains woodlands that have survived for 11 million years. Water-carrying aircraft that doused flames when fire broke out there a week ago were sent elsewhere after officials decided the outbreak had been brought under control, only to find it was rekindled by winds and high temperatures, said regional official Nancy Melo.
A dry winter has been followed by a scorching summer, with temperatures reaching 44C in southern areas in recent days. Regional governments reported 10 wildfires raging across Spain on Sunday.
An outbreak at Cabaneros national park in the west was causing concern because it is considered the largest surviving area of Iberian Mediterranean forest, pinelands that are home to an enormous variety of plant species and endangered fauna like the Spanish imperial eagle. Another fire was threatening Donana natural park in the southwest, a stopping-off location for western Europe's migrating birds.