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HomeGlobal NewsWildfire on Spain's Tenerife burning 'out of control' – DW – 08/17/2023

Wildfire on Spain’s Tenerife burning ‘out of control’ – DW – 08/17/2023

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A wildfire in a mountainous national park on the Spanish island of Tenerife has rapidly expanded to become the “most complex” blaze to hit the Canary Islands in four decades, the regional government said on Thursday.

Hundreds of firefighters are trying to bring the fire under control.

How big is the blaze?

The fire has grown to cover an area of 2,600 hectares (6,425 acres) since breaking out on Wednesday on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.

The blaze has now extended across 31 kilometers (19 miles) of dry woodland, engulfing both sides of Mount Teide, Spain’s tallest peak. 

“The night has been very tough…this is the most complex fire we’ve had in the Canary Islands in the last 40 years,” regional leader, Fernando Clavijo, told a news conference.

At an earlier press briefing in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz, Clavijo said that the wildfire was spiraling “out of control,” and the situation is dangerous.

Clavijo said that despite challenging weather conditions, he was confident that efforts to extinguish the blaze would pay off in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

What is the latest?

Efforts to combat the wildfire involve the deployment of 17 aircraft and a combined contingent of 250 firefighters and military personnel. Additional waterbombing aircraft was also sent from the mainland.

Vicky Palma, an adviser on wildfires to the Tenerife council, said on Canarias Radio that the anticipated drop in nighttime temperatures to around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) was expected to intensify wind patterns in the region.

Pedro Martinez, the chief of the island’s emergency services, said the fire had spread to the north, towards a valley where several camping sites are located.

Rosa Davila, who leads the Tenerife council, said all mountain access points on the island, including the popular tourist attraction Mount Teide, had been closed off.

Wildfire smoke is seen billowing into the sky during a blaze on the Spanish island of Tenerife on August 16
Several villages have already been evacuated as the fire rips through a national park on the islandImage: Andres Gutierrez/AA/picture alliance

Evacuations underway

The spreading wildfire has prompted authorities to evacuate around 3,800 people from El Rosario and La Orotava in the island’s northeast.

A shelter for dogs took precautionary measures by evacuating some of its most vulnerable canines and those with respiratory issues to shield them from the smoke.

The two airports on Tenerife are operating normally, according to Spain’s airport operator Aena.

A heat wave struck the Canary Islands in recent weeks, leaving numerous regions of the already desert-like archipelago extremely dry and heightening the wildfire risk.

Throughout this summer, firefighting teams have successfully extinguished a series of forest fires on the islands of Gran Canaria and La Palma.

Europe has been grappling with waves of extreme weather over the summer, a situation further exacerbated by the impact of climate change.

kb,tg/rs (AFP, Reuters)

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