26,000 evacuated from Tenerife as wildfires ravage popular island

26,000 people evacuated from Tenerife as wildfires ravage popular British holidaymaker island

  • Thousands evacuated from Tenerife after 4th day of wildfires on holiday island
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More than 26,000 are being evacuated from Tenerife as ‘out of control’ wildfires have ravaged the island popular with British holidaymakers for a fourth day.

The regional government for the Canary Islands said that 4,000 more people were ordered to evacuate today as as high temperatures and strong winds plagued efforts to tackle the massive blaze.

Those were in addition to the 4,500 people who on Friday were forced to move out of harm’s way on the Atlantic island that is home to about a million people and is also a popular tourist destination.

That figure of more than 8,000 evacuees is expected to rise, and perhaps sharply.

Emergency services for the Canary Islands said later that the number of evacuees ‘could surpass 26,000’ according to provisional calculations based on the island’s census.

More than 26,000 are being evacuated from Tenerife as ‘out of control’ wildfires have ravaged the island popular with British holidaymakers for a fourth day (pictured: The fronts of the forest fire on hills above houses, in the Guimar valley on the Canary Island of Tenerife)

Smoke is seen from La Victoria as a forest fire continues to burn land, in La Victoria, Tenerife

Emergency crews and firefighters are working to extinguish the fire advancing through the forest in La Orotava in Tenerife

The service added that all those people who needed somewhere to take refuge would be directed to shelters.

READ MORE: Wildfires spread on British holiday isle of Tenerife as more families are evacuated from their homes in worst blazes to hit Canary Islands in 40 years

The regional government said that ‘the fire is beyond our capacity to extinguish it’ due to hot and dry conditions and high winds that have fanned the huge flames.

Firefighters have been unable to establish a perimeter around the blaze that has consumed at least 12,355 acres.

‘We have never seen a fire of this dimension on the Canary Islands,’ the island’s governor, Rosa Davila, said.

No injuries have been reported since the fire broke out late on Tuesday.

Some 265 firefighters battled the blaze with the help of 19 aircraft, which included units from mainland Spain sent to help. More reinforcements are on the way, the central government said.

The fire is in a steep and craggy mountain area with pine trees, with several municipalities on its flanks. Access for firefighters is extremely difficult.

The regional chief of the archipelago, Fernando Clavijo, said that police are investigating the cause of the fire.

The Canary Islands have been in drought for most of the past few years, just like most of mainland Spain. The islands have recorded below-average rainfall in recent years because of changing weather patterns affected by climate change.

More than 2,000 people were evacuated during a wildfire on nearby La Palma island last month that affected some 11,000 acres.

Spain had a record-hot 2022 and is setting new heat records this year amid a prolonged drought that has authorities on alert for wildfires.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, Spain heads the list of EU countries affected by wildfires so far this year, with 185,000 acres burned, ahead of Italy and Greece.

Spain accounted for almost 40% of the nearly 800,00 two million acres burned in the European Union in 2022, the EU agency said.

Local residents sit after fleeing their home as the fire advances toward La Orotava in Tenerife

Valerio, 38, rescues a donkey in the village of Benijos, as wildfires rage out of control

The regional government said that ‘the fire is beyond our capacity to extinguish it’ due to hot and dry conditions and high winds that have fanned the huge flames

A helicopter drops water on the flames as the fire advances through the forest toward the town of Pinolere in Tenerife

The fire comes as Spain’s mainland is braced for another heatwave. Spain’s state weather service issued a warning on Saturday that temperatures would be on the rise in the coming days, hitting 40C in parts of the mainland.

Pedro Martinez, who is in charge of extinction efforts, told reporters the blaze was ‘behaving like a sixth-generation wildfire’ – a term referring to a mega forest fire.

He added that the perimeter of the fire had ‘most certainly grown a lot’ overnight and was ‘descending steadily’ down the northern mountainside.

‘The fire is beyond our capacity to extinguish it, maybe not in all sectors, but in a large part of the sectors,’ he admitted, as efforts to tackle the flames were being hampered by the huge clouds of smoke and the wind.

Maria del Pilar Rodriguez Padron, another resident of Matanza said she was sleeping in her car by the house.

‘They offered us a place to stay but we prefer to stay in the car because we can watch the house and see whether it burns or not. Being elsewhere we just wouldn’t be able to sleep,’ she told AFPTV.

Workers transfer Emilina Garcia, 97, by ambulance towards a hospital at a care center after she was evacuated with his son in the village of La Victoria, as wildfires continue to blaze

A wildfire rages out of control through forested slopes in La Orotava

Visiting the fire control centre and the affected areas, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said all the state’s resources were being made available to the island to tackle ‘this extremely serious emergency’.

The blaze has generated a vast pillar of smoke that now stretches some eight kilometres into the air, officials said, rising far above the summit of Mount Teide, the volcano that towers over the island.

At 12,200 feet, Teide is Spain’s highest peak and a popular tourist destination, but all roads to the national park were closed on Thursday.

The blaze broke out after the archipelago suffered a heatwave that left many areas tinder dry.

Last year was a particularly bad year for wildfires in Europe, with Spain the worst-hit nation, suffering nearly 500 blazes that destroyed more than 300,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

So far this year, EFFIS says almost 76,000 hectares have been ravaged by 340 fires in Spain, one of the European countries most vulnerable to climate change.

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