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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Canary Islands fires: Your experiences
A helicopter fights a fire in Gran Canaria
The forest fires have been burning for four days
Severe forest fires on the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria have forced the evacuation of more than 11,000 people. Spain's environment minister called a state of "maximum alert".

Here, readers on the islands describe the scenes they witnessed as the fires escalated.

MARTIN HOPLEY, ICOD DE LOS VINOS, TENERIFE

We went to bed on Monday night thinking the fires had passed us by, although we could see them burning as they moved south.

We were then awoken at 0200 by the sound of embers falling onto our roof and went outside to see the whole hillside on fire.

The wind had changed direction and blown the fire back towards us.

We desperately need some rain to dampen everything down
Martin Hopley
We spent the night hosing down the house and garden, and putting out smaller fires started by the falling embers.

The smoke and hot winds were horrendous.

We didn't start to feel safe until 0800 on Tuesday morning when the helicopters halted the line of flames that was heading towards us.

It seems to be coming under control now but we desperately need some rain to dampen everything down.

The volunteer fire service and forestry workers have been fighting the fires day and night. I take my hat off to them all.

MIKE WALSH, CAMPO INTERNACIONAL MASPALOMAS, GRAN CANARIA

We've had severe winds coming over from Africa that have basically caused devastation across the middle of the island.

There are a lot of small villages where the fires are, where a lot of local residents live, and many people have been evacuated.

I live in one of the main urban areas, Campo Internacional Maspalomas, and although it's not really affecting us here, every time you look out the window you can just see the smoke billowing from the mountains.

Smoke in Tenerife
Reader Phil Evans captured this scene in Tenerife
Depending on which way the wind is blowing, you can smell it also.

There are also a lot of problems with ash in the air, and the high winds are causing a lot of sand to blow up into the air.

It must be a nightmare for the firefighters trying to get it under control.

From what I understand there are six fires and the firefighters are trying to keep them away from highly populated areas. There are also a couple of helicopters dumping water on the fires.

Over the last few days temperatures have been reaching 46C or 47C in the coastal areas, so up in the mountains temperatures have probably gone up to around 50 degrees.

STEPHEN HELLIER, GRAN CANARIA

I was in Gran Canaria when the fires started.

I was one of the last people to drive along the road between Puerto de Mogan and San Nicolas on Sunday, as roadblocks had been set up in the other direction when drove back.

The smoke was very visible from the car and I was very concerned as I could see it spread.

Map
On Monday morning, things were much worse.

I stepped out of my apartment complex near Arguineguin and saw a thick plume of yellow-brown smoke drifting southwards across the island.

I later drove along the coast towards Puerto de Mogan, and was horrified by what I saw.

At Puerto de Mogan the northbound main road was blocked off , and I saw many emergency vehicles rush past through the road block.

Temperatures are unusually high at the moment, and the thermometer on our car at one point read 49C, and we were on the coast.

There were also some very strong hot winds blowing, making the situation worse.

LEE BOOTH, COSTA ADEJE, TENERIFE

I was driving through Los Gigantes, which is about 30km away from the fires, around 0300 this morning.

It was a shocking sight.

There were huge flames shooting up into the air on the higher ground.

I could also see blue lights all the way up into the mountainous areas, where police were evacuating local residents

I work during the day in the tourist resort of Costa Adeje, which is further away.

However there is a constant black and yellow smoke visible all over the island.

Ash has been falling and visibility is been very poor.

The ash originally caused many to panic as they thought it was the island's volcano erupting.

Police are telling people to stay away from the north of the island.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Gran Canaria resident speaks of fire devastation



SEE ALSO
PM visits fire-ravaged Canaries
01 Aug 07 |  Europe



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