by Desiree Martin
LA GOMERA, Spain, Aug 12, 2012 (AFP) - One person was killed and three injured Sunday as firefighters battled wildfires across Spain, authorities said, the latest victims in a sweltering summer of forest blazes.
The victim died fighting a blaze in woods near the southeastern city of Alicante, while there and on the Canary Islands aircraft dumped water on the hillsides to douse flames that have driven thousands from their homes.
As the fires on the Canaries raged along with smaller blazes around the country, the latest major blaze broke out north of Alicante in the Torre de les Macanes pine woods where the firefighter died, the regional government said.
The fire "is still active in an area of adult pines," a spokeswoman for the emergency services told AFP on Sunday evening.
Regional government official Serafin Castellano said authorities evacuated 130 children from a camp in the area as a precaution.
On the Atlantic islands of La Gomera and Tenerife, part of the Canaries archipelago, fires that have ravaged thousands of hectares of land burned on out of control Sunday, authorities said.
On la Gomera, "work is under way to prevent the fire advancing towards the populated areas of Vallehermoso" in the north and further into Garajonay National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, the regional government said in a statement.
Elderly villagers on La Gomera had spent the night in hotels and student halls after more than 4,700 people were evacuated since Friday.
Apolonia Garcia Castaneda, an 83-year-old mother of 10 who was evacuated overnight on La Gomera, said she had to leave behind her chickens, sheep and crops as well as her dog.
"I haven't been able to sleep. I rested a bit, but the fear doesn't go easily," she said.
The flames have charred more than 600 hectares (1,500 acres) on La Gomera and some 370 hectares on Tenerife since they revived on Friday after devastating 3,000 hectares earlier in the week, the regional government said.
Since the fire first started a week ago, a total of nearly 800 hectares have been burned inside the Garajonay reserve, home to rare subtropical forests, it said.
Some residents were allowed to return to their villages on Tenerife, the regional government statement said, but residents of several villages on La Gomera faced a second night in their emergency lodgings.
The head of the Canary Islands emergency services Juan Manuel Santana told a news conference that high temperatures and low humidity on Sunday made it harder to control the blaze.
Spain is at particular risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years. Temperatures have topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in recent days.
Last month four people were killed by a wildfire in the northern Catalonia region.
In Vallehermoso, 150 people who fled nearby villages overnight spent the night in hotels and school accommodation. Many others were housed by friends and relatives.
"Most of the people we've taken in are over 65 or children," said Maria Dolores Arteaga Amaro, a social worker looking after the evacuees.
"Most require regular medication, so a volunteer nurse has worked around the clock taking care of them."
The Spanish government says 132,300 hectares of land have been burnt so far this year and blazes have broken out across the country in recent days.
On the mainland, officials in the northwestern Galicia region said that among a series of wildfires there, the biggest had ravaged 1,200 hectares.
Several other fires were reported, from Catalonia in the north to the Cabaneros national park in central Spain and another near the Donana park in Andalucia in the south.
Meanwhile in Greece, rainfall overnight helped hundreds of firefighters to bring a blaze under control near Mount Athos, another World Heritage site housing a remote monastic community.