German may have started fatal Canaries wildfire burning used toilet paper

A 27-year-old German, who has been arrested on suspicion of starting a massive wildfire which engulfed a national park on the Canary Islands, has reportedly blamed the incident on an attempt to burn used toilet paper. The blaze caused death of a park ranger and forced some 700 people to be evacuated.

The man told police that he defecated off road at the La Palma natural park and then lit the toilet paper, which quickly sparked a blaze. He reportedly had not wanted to leave the rubbish in the parkland and decided to get rid of it by setting it on fire with no intention of causing a natural disaster.

“He said that it was an accident caused when sparks from the burning toilet paper caught dry vegetation,” said an investigation source, Spanish newspaper Razon reported, according to The Local.

The German reportedly constantly lives in a cave on the island. A Civil Guard patrol dispatched to the area detected him as he walked along the road when the forest fire alarm had already gone off.

The massive fire claimed the life of a 54-year-old park ranger Francisco Jose Santata who worked for the Canary Islands Environmental Department, the emergency services said on Thursday, according to Reuters. He died fighting the fire which was blown about by high winds. The man was married and had five daughters.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed his condolences to the family on his official Twitter account.

Around 700 local residents had to be evacuated. They were told to leave their houses and seek shelter in a sports centre in the town of El Paso until firefighters manage to suppress the fire.

Nearly 200 firefighters and emergency response workers have arrived to the area and are trying to bring it under control, local authorities reported, according to AP.

Regional officials had to turn to central government for help in dealing with the wildfire. By Thursday morning extra number of firefighters and water-dropping planes were sent from the mainland and neighboring islands.

Horror 😞🌲🔥 #lapalma

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By Thursday afternoon an estimated 1,000 hectares (almost 2,500 acres) of the pine forest have already fallen victim to the blaze.
The smoke from the fire has spread to residential areas and decreased visibility, witnesses on social media report.

Last time such a major wildfire struck the island was in 2009 when around 4,000 people had to be evacuated. The park and the island on the whole are popular among tourists with the fire occurring in the middle of summer holiday season.