Shocking footage of Gran Canaria fire and smoke billowing into sky

The fire is devouring the mountainous centre of the holiday island

Firefighters forced into retreat as wildfires ravage Gran Canaria

In this photo issued by Cabildo de Gran Canaria, flames from a forest fire burn close to houses in El Rincon, Tejeda on the Spanish Gran Canaria island on Sunday Aug. 18, 2019.

On the northwestern flank of the blaze, flames have risen as excessive as 50 metres (160 ft), stopping floor crew or water-dropping plane from approaching, the emergency providers spokeswoman stated.

Recent estimates suggest around 700 firefighters are on the ground to help quell the flames, including 200 from the military.

The blaze was racing across parched woodlands into Tamadaba Natural Park, home to some of the island's oldest pine forests and regarded as one of the jewels on Gran Canaria, a mountainous volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago off north-west Africa.

Famous for its beaches and mountains, Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas, are popular European vacation destinations.

The land and aerial resources used in combating the fire were the largest ever deployed for a blaze in the Canary Islands, said Ángel Víctor Torres, the island's president.

However a big majority of vacationers who go to Gran Canaria, the second-most populous of the Canary Islands, keep in seashore resorts.

Emergency services struggled Monday to contain the fire amid gusting winds and summer temperatures around 36 degrees Celsius (nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit).

"Today is vital because we have more favorable weather conditions to attack the fire, limit its effects and then extinguish it", he told Spanish national radio station RNE. The blaze started on Saturday afternoon, and the cause is under investigation.

Around 9,000 people have been evacuated from Gran Canaria.

Local rancher Benito Mendoza Rivero said the blaze was devastating.

She described the huge fire as "terrifying".

He was angry at what he perceived as the authorities' lack of preparedness for a major wildfire, and said water-dumping aircraft were wasting their time.

"When (weather) conditions begin to change that is when we can begin to control the fire", he added.

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