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German man says 'toilet paper mishap' started Spain wildfire

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German man says 'toilet paper mishap' started Spain wildfire
Firefighters battle the blaze in La Palma. Photo: DPA/EPA
12:04 CEST+02:00
UPDATE: A German man blamed for starting a wildfire that caused the death of a park official on the Canary Island of La Palma said he was trying to burn used toilet paper.

The 27-year-old man told police that he had attempted to burn toilet paper used after he defecated off of a forest trail in a nature park, but quickly sparked a blaze.

“He said that it was an accident caused when sparks from the burning toilet paper caught dry vegetation,” said a source from the investigation, as reported by Spanish newspaper La Razon.

The unnamed man, who reportedly lives in a cave on the island, was arrested by a Spanish Civil Guard patrol who discovered him walking along the road as they went to the scene once the forest fire alarm was raised.

The fire claimed the life of a 54-year-old official working for the Canary Islands Environmental Department on Thursday morning as teams battled to control the flames. He was named as Francisco José Santana, father of five from Telde.

The fire in the Jedey mountains on the Canary Island of La Palma broke out on Wednesday and had already destroyed an estimated 1,000 hectares by Thursday afternoon as firefighting teams battled to bring it under control.

Homes were evacuated in and around the town of El Paso as the wildfire raged out of control in the north of the Canary Island.

Around 700 residents were told to leave their homes and seek shelter in the sports centre at El Paso until the blaze was brought under control.

The video below reveals the full extent of the wildfire:

Island authorities called for assistance in tackling the wildfire, which broke out at lunchtime on Wednesday and by Thursday morning, an extra 67 firefighters and 32 vehicles, including water-dropping planes, were brought in from the mainland and neighbouring islands to help the 100 local workers control the blaze.

The blaze ravaged the Caldera de Taburiente National Park on the western-most island of the Spanish archipelago, devouring ancient forest.

By Fiona Govan

 
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