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Fire wipes out seven percent of La Palma

August 9, 2016

A wildfire continues to decimate parts of the Spanish island, with people moved from their homes as a precaution. The blaze began when a 27-year-old German set fire to his toilet paper near the town of El Paso.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/D.Martin

Spanish authorities said they have moved more than 500 more residents from the path of the five-day-old forest fire, which has affected over 4,400 hectares on the volcanic island located off the northwest coast of Africa, the Spanish news agency Efe said late Monday. A 54-year-old forestry worker died on Thursday while helping to fight the wildfire.

About 350 firefighters, supported by four planes and eight helicopters dumping water, are battling the fire but strong winds and high temperatures are making work difficult, the authorities said.

The regional government for the island, part of the Canary Islands archipelago, says the evacuation of two neighborhoods in the town of Villa de Mazo took place Sunday morning shortly after midnight as the fire spread through the hilly terrain. This came only hours after authorities said some of the 2,500 residents previously moved to safety could now return to their homes.

Spanien La Palma Waldbrand
Image: picture alliance/dpa/M. Calero

A German man admitted to police on Friday that he had started the fire accidentally by burning some of his soiled toilet paper. Spanish media say he has been charged with grave negligence and was denied bail after a judicial hearing Saturday while police continued their investigation.

Local Spanish media reported that the man had been living on the most northwestern island in the Canary Islands for at least four years, most recently in a cave. He is currently being held without bail.

jbh/msh (dpa, AP)