The blaze that began Friday in a mountainous area on the island of Gran Canary has now charred 3,500 hectares of ecologically rich land, most of it top-quality pinetrees.
Spain — A forest ranger has confessed to setting a huge and fast-growing fire in the Canary Islands, saying his job contract was about to run out and he wanted to keep working, the Civil Guard said Sunday.
The blaze that began Friday in a mountainous area on the island of Gran Canary has now charred 3,500 hectares (8,750 acres) of ecologically rich land, most of it top-quality pine trees.
About 100 firefighters are battling the blaze in difficult conditions of extremely hot weather and low humidity. Many areas on fire are in rough terrain that is hard to reach.
Police arrested the ranger, identified as 37-year-old Juan Antonio Navarro Armas, on Saturday and he later confessed to setting the fire with matches, the Civil Guard said in a statement.
Navarro Armas’s three-month job contract was to expire Sept. 30, and he said he set the fire hoping the work would lead authorities to extend his contract, the police statement said.
It was Navarro Armas who first reported the fire, and police arrested him after detecting contradictions in his account, the statement said.
Another, much smaller fire on the Canary Island of La Gomera was under control Sunday, but not completely extinguished, after burning some 160 hectares (400 hectares) of land, officials said.