Wildfires force evacuations in Tenerife

Blaze devastates 130 hectares and is spreading rapidly with more evacuations possible

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Spanish authorities have ordered the evacuation of four villages on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, due to a rapidly spreading wildfire in the nature park surrounding Mount Teide volcano, Spain's highest peak.

The fire, which started on Tuesday night, has already devastated about 130 hectares near Mount Teide and was estimated to have grown to approximately 150 hectares by Wednesday.

The north-east region of Tenerife, characterised by its steep ravines and densely forested areas, is a significant challenge for emergency crews.

Rosa Davila, the president of the Tenerife council, expressed concern in a local radio interview. “This blaze has a huge potential; we have asked for additional means," she said..

“It mainly affects the Corona Forestal national park, which is densely populated with pine trees and woods. Aircraft are necessary due to the steep terrain.”

In response, helicopters have been dispatched to douse the flames with water, Canarias Radio reported.

The villages of Arrate, Chivisaya, Media Montana, and Ajafona have been evacuated.

The TF-24 and TF-523 motorways have been temporarily closed given their proximity to the wildfire.

The wildfire was declared on August 15 at 11:36pm on the TF-523, affecting the municipalities of Arafo and Candelaria.

The severity of the fire has been raised to level 2, prompting the government of the Canary Islands to assume control of emergency operations.

The Canary Islands experienced a heatwave over the past week, which left many areas extremely dry and increased the wildfire risk.

Emergency services have been cautioning residents and tourists about the conditions.

Wildfires strike Tenerife

Wildfires strike Tenerife

Other potential disruptions include power cuts, possible ashfall leading to reduced visibility, and traffic delays due to road closures.

Authorities have also indicated that more routes might be closed, and additional communities may be evacuated depending on the fire's progress.

Residents and visitors in the region are advised to heed evacuation orders, stay updated on road conditions, remain indoors in well-ventilated areas to minimise smoke exposure, and prepare a “go-bag” with essential items.

Summer engulfed by wildfires and intense heatwaves

Across Europe, countries are grappling with extreme temperatures and escalating wildfires, stoking concerns about the mounting consequences of climate change.

Spain, in the grip of soaring temperatures, issued three red weather alerts. Regions such as Catalonia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands are expected to face temperatures of up to 44ºC.

Similarly, the Italian capital, Rome, posted a record-breaking temperature of 41.8ºC, surpassing last year's peak.

Over the past few weeks, wildfires have raged across the continent.

Portugal faced a huge firefighting challenge. More than 1,000 firefighters worked tirelessly to contain a central fire that destroyed more than 7,000 hectares.

Cyprus made urgent international appeals for assistance in tackling an enormous forest fire north of Limassol. Aid was provided by Greece, Jordan and Israel.

Joint efforts by Spain and France successfully contained a wildfire threatening the area near their shared border.

The cause of these drastic temperature surges is being linked to anticyclone Charon, which has its origins over North Africa.

The World Meteorological Organisation said the current heatwave might worsen, heightening health concerns.

Updated: August 17, 2023, 7:26 AM