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Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 15:13 UK

Weather aids Canary blaze effort

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Homes and businesses in the town of Fuencaliente have been gutted by the fires

Cooler temperatures are helping firefighters tackle forest fires that have burned for four days on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands.

Rain and lighter winds meant teams had brought one of two fires under control, local authorities said.

They hoped to contain the other later in the day, they said.

The fires have forced 4,000 people from their homes and destroyed dozens of houses. Firefighters have come from across Spain to help extinguish them.

On Sunday Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero visited the island and promised compensation for those who were forced to evacuate.

Homes destroyed

Julio Cabrera, La Palma's environmental director, said the fire in the west of the island was under control. Work to contain the one in the east was ongoing.

Satellite image of La Palma
A Nasa satellite image shows smoke trailing from La Palma

The fires were not directly threatening any towns or villages, he said, and no new evacuations were planned.

Six hundred firefighters backed by nine water-carrying planes were working to contain the flames, he said.

The fires, which began on Friday, were fanned by strong winds over the weekend.

Several dozen homes in the town of Fuencaliente were gutted. Groups of tourists have been unable to catch flights home because of road closures.

La Palma is a small, relatively undeveloped island, with a resident population of about 85,000.

It is renowned as one of the greenest of the Canary Islands, but its vegetation has been seared by high temperatures in recent days.

Smaller fires have broken out on other Canary Islands, including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but are expected to be brought under control soon.

Map of La Palma


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