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Firefighters Report Progress Against Canary Islands Blazes

Spanish authorities say firefighters are making progress against wildfires that have scorched large parts of the Canary Islands.

Officials said Wednesday the fires on the main islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria had "stabilized" as winds eased and temperatures moderated.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero inspected the damage and promised special government aid.

Authorities say a quarter of the forests on both islands have been incinerated, along with habitats of rare plants and animals. The blazes have not reached coastal resorts popular with European tourists.

Environmentalists call the fires a catastrophe.

About 9,000 people were in emergency shelters on Tenerife Wednesday,while most of the 5,000 displaced people on Gran Canaria have begun returning home.

Tenerife authorities say they suspect arsonists started the wildfire on the island. Police on Gran Canaria are holding a forest worker who confessed to starting a fire there last Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.