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Fire at campsite

A fierce fire broke out at a campsite in southern Gran Canaria on Sunday. Six caravans and five motor homes were totally destroyed, but no one were killed.

campsite-fire-gran-canariaThe fire broke out in Tarajalejo, El Berriel located in the popular tourist area of Maspalomas in the south of Gran Canaria. Emergency services were alerted at 3:20 pm on Sunday afternoon and several rescue teams from local police, national police, civil defense, ambulances and fire brigade CUC from San Bartolome de Tirajana quickly arrived. The fire was extinguished at 5pm. The fire department had then used 16,000 liters of water. 6 people were treated for shock, and three of them were sent to the health care center.

The fire was reportedly caused by a deep fryer with potatoes that caught fire in a caravan. The ceiling of the caravan caught fire and then the fire spread swiftly to the surrounding caravans and motor homes. The campsite was quickly evacuated and was closed until 6 pm. During the fire several gas cylinders exploded and smoke could be seen many kilometers away.

There have been studies about fire safety at Swedish campgrounds and the results of the studies have revealed major shortcomings. Above all regarding the safety distance and fire fighting equipment. There is good reason to suspect that the situation is not any in better here in Spain. Therefore, here are some tips and advice for fireproof camping. The advices comes from the Rescue Agency in Sweden, but can probably be used in other countries as well.

Reduce the risk of fire

Caravans and tents burn quickly – the fire is often finished within minutes. As a camping guest, you must help reducing the risk of fire occurring or spreading. If a fire should occur, you must be prepared to intervene yourself. At the time the rescue team arrives it is often too late. Smoke detectors and gas detectors provide early warning. With a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket you get the opportunity to intervene at an early stage, whether it is is burning in your own camper or in your neighbor’s. If tents and caravans are too close together, there is great risk that the fire spreads to the neighbors. It is important that the recommended distance is maintained. Place the caravan hook towards the road so that the camper can be moved quickly if it starts burning at your neighbor’s.

Handling of gas

If you use gas for heating or cooking, you must have good knowledge of how to do it safely. It is important to have good ventilation in conjunction with the equipment. Propane is not a poisonous gas, but it is highly flammable and explosive. Leaking gas can cause suffocation because it displaces oxygen in the lungs. Check that all hoses and connections for the LPG system is intact and properly tightened to prevent leakage. Gas bottles should never be lying, because then the safety valve does not work. Place the LPG equipment with sufficient distance from flammable materials. If there are no instructions, the safety distance should be no less than 60 cm. Make it a habit to check for leaks in the LPG system with the leak indicator every time you change the container or at least once a year. If necessary, you can ask for leak testing from a camping club or a camping retailer. Upon inspection, it is often possible to check for leaks in the LPG system.

Safe barbecuing

Never use a barbecue inside an awning or camping tent. Glowing coal and other fuels emit poisonous carbon monoxide. The barbecue should always be placed on a flat, non-flammable surface at least one meter from the tent or caravan. Keep flammable fluids at least three meters from the barbecue. Never leave the barbecue unattended. Dispose of used charcoal in the designated place. Used charcoal from a barbecue can retain heat and glow for up to three days.

Recommended distance

The distance between two caravans or between a caravan and a tent should be at least four meters. In this case caravan also means motor home inclunding awning etc. The distance between two tents should be at least three meters. It is your responsibility as camping guest to ensure that the distance to your neighbors is being respected.

Check electrical equipment

You as a caravan owner must ensure that the electrical equipment is in a safe condition. For example, it is important that all the equipment you connect is CE labeled and that all cables are intact. A cheap life insurance is to let an electrician conduct a review of the electrical system in the caravan. Because the caravan is exposed to strong vibrations and shocks while driving, it is important to follow up with your own regular checks. If the campsite’s sockets have been installed after 1992 they will be protected by RCDs. Check that this is the case. Bring your own RCD as a precaution. The connection cable between the power pole and the caravan should be no longer than 25 meters. Avoid cable reels and if such are being used, roll out the entire cable. In a coiled wire heat can increase so that the insulation melts. In the worst case, the car and the caravan can become conductive and you risk being electrocuted.

If a fire starts

Act as follows:

  • Rescue – Warn – Call – Extinguish
  • Save people in danger, warn the vicinity and call the emergency services on 112. Try to extinguish the fire if you have fire extinguishers, but do not take any unnecessary risks.
  • If your neighbor’s caravan is burning, remove the camping units that are in danger if possible.
  • Meet the rescue team when they arrive and show them where the fire is.
The fire spread very quickly and was very powerful. The smoke plume could be seen from a large distance.

The fire spread very quickly and was very powerful. The smoke plume could be seen from a large distance.