Around 250 firefighters and personnel from Spain’s special military emergency unit (UME) are battling a wildfire raging ‘out of control’ on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, that has forced road closures and the evacuation of five villages.
The fire, which broke out on Tuesday night, was raging through a forested area with steep ravines in the northeastern part of the island.
‘The fire is out of control, the scenario is not exactly very positive,’ the head of the regional government, Fernando Clavijo, said at a news conference in Tenerife late on Wednesday. ‘Our goal is for it to stop gaining ground. It was a very hard day,’ he added.
Around 250 firefighters backed by 13 planes and helicopters, including three sent from mainland Spain, worked to contain the fire in an area difficult to reach, Clavijo said.
He said the flames had so far burned about 1,800 hectares on the island’s Candelaria and Arafo area.
The villages of Arrate, Chivisaya, Media Montana, Ajafona and Las Lagunetas were evacuated on Wednesday morning as a precaution because of thick smoke.
Local authorities have cut off roads leading to the mountains on the northeastern part of the island.
‘We ask that the population respect all these cuts,’ said the head of the archipelago’s civil protection service, Montserrat Roman.
The wildfire comes after the Canary Islands were hit by a heatwave that has left many areas tinder dry, increasing the risk of wildfires.
Heatwaves have become more likely due to climate change, scientists say. As global temperatures rise over time, heat waves are predicted to become more frequent and intense, and their impacts more widespread.
#ImageOfTheDay 1/2— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) August 17, 2023
Yesterday, 16 August, a large #wildfire broke out in #Tenerife 🇪🇸
➡️Four villages have been evacuated
➡️The @CopernicusEMS #RapidMappingTeam has been activated (#EMSR685)
⬇️The smoke cloud from #IFArafoCandelaria 🔥 imaged by #Sentinel3 on the same day pic.twitter.com/uh9gokViMJ
#IFArafoCandelaria— UME (@UMEgob) August 17, 2023
Durante la noche las unidades de la #UME han aplicado fuego técnico sobre la carretera TF-24 🛣 entre los Km 15 y 11 para reducir el combustible disponible
Además se han realizado vuelos con drones para vigilar la evolución del frente de llama pic.twitter.com/RiV5Q9Scfm