Tenerife in flames, thousands of citizens and tourists evacuated

Enormous winds swept 41 kilometers into a mountainous national park on the Spanish island of Tenerife, fueled by hot, dry air, forcing authorities to evacuate thousands of locals and tourists who came to spend their holidays on the island. The fire is currently affecting the municipalities of Arafo, Candelaria, El Rosario, La Victoria, Santa Ursula, La Orotava, El Sauzal and Tacoronte. The most recent evacuations were in El Sauzal and Santa Ursula, adding 3,069 people who had to leave their homes and 3,820 who were confined to the municipality of La Esperanza.

Firefighting operations are complicated by terrain and weather conditions. Operations manager Pedro Martinez said only 15 to 20 percent of the fire perimeter had been stabilized, while elsewhere the fire continued to progress, albeit more slowly. About 200 men were mobilized to close it, and 16 aircraft plus two for coordination were used. The work of these forces will be completed with the intervention of 260 soldiers. “The night was very difficult. This fire is probably the most complex we have had in the Canary Islands in at least the last 40 years,” said Fernando Clavijo, head of the archipelago’s government, at a press conference in Tenerife.

Emergency services expect temperatures to rise on the island over the weekend, and a change in winds early tomorrow (Saturday) morning could push the flames from the northeast to the west. Last week’s heatwave in the Canary Islands dried up many areas, increasing the risk of wildfires. Authorities warned that the spread of the fire could lead to further evacuations and quarantines and advised people to stay tuned for public service alerts. Civil defense chief Montse Roman said 3,820 people have so far been ordered to stay at home until tomorrow. A prison and a reception center for immigrants are among the lockdown areas.

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Source: Today IT