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Forest fires rage Canary Islands of Spain, 11,000 people evacuated

More than 11,000 people were evacuated in the Canary Islands Tuesday as firefighters struggled to extinguish fires on two of the archipelago's popular tourist islands.

About 6,000 people were evacuated from homes on Tenerife, where 4,500 hectares (11,115 acres) of forest on the western part of the island have burned since Monday, said Paulino Rivero, the president of the Canary Islands regional government.

He described the situation as "dramatic."

Tenerife authorities said they were fighting fires on four fronts, only one of which was under control. Many roads in the area were closed.

Authorities said winds of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) were spreading the flames across the tree tops.

In Gran Canaria island, a four-day-old fire has charred 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of woodland in the southwest Mogan region.

About 5,200 people, including some tourists, were evacuated from the area as dozens of homes were engulfed by the flames, said a spokesman for the emergency service of the regional government in Gran Canaria.

The fire has burned 65 percent of the Palmitos bird sanctuary park and it was feared some toucans and other exotic birds may have died, the national news agency Efe reported.

Army troops, along with eight firefighting aircraft, were trying to smother the blaze.

On Saturday, police said they arrested a 37-year-old forest ranger who admitted starting the Gran Canaria fire, saying his job contract was about to expire and he wanted to keep working.

There are seven islands in the Canary Island archipelago, located off Africa's northwest coast.

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