Around 200 emergency services continuously fought the devastating forest fire on the Canary Island of Tenerife, which is popular with holidaymakers, during the night on Friday. The 16 fire-fighting planes and helicopters will only be able to be used again after daybreak, said Canary Islands Prime Minister Fernando Clavijo late in the evening. After two days, the flames would have covered almost 3300 hectares. The area destroyed is equivalent to almost 5,000 football pitches.
According to Clavijo, the flames are raging on several fronts in a radius of several dozen kilometers in the north-east of the island. The extinguishing work would continue to be made more difficult by the difficult-to-access terrain and the adverse weather conditions, including strong winds. "We can say, however, that the defense lines that have been set up to protect inhabited areas such as La Esperanza, Santa Ursula or La Orotava are already having an effect," said the head of government.
According to Clavijos, it is one of the worst fires on Tenerife in the past 40 years. The number of people evacuated from their homes in eight affected communities such as Arafo and Candelaria is now just over 3,000 instead of 4,000. The Red Cross set up emergency shelters in gymnasiums. Several thousand people in less vulnerable places were asked not to leave their homes.
Although the access roads to the Teide volcano were closed as a precaution, according to the Tenerife travel authority, normality prevailed in the tourist areas. According to the travel company Tui, there are more than 10,000 tourists on Tenerife across the group - not just from Germany. So far there have been no impairments when traveling to the island, it said.
The cause of the fire that broke out between Arafo and Candelaria on Wednesday night was still not clear. The meteorologist Victoria Palma, who advises the island government, spoke of a very special fire that had developed a cloud of smoke up to six kilometers high and unfolded its own meteorological dynamics. In addition, the fire transports glowing remains of vegetation, which in turn triggers new fires.
On the archipelago of the Canaries, located in the Atlantic off the coast of West Africa, forest fires occur more frequently, especially in summer. Only in July a fire on La Palma destroyed almost 3000 hectares. Tenerife is the largest island of the archipelago, which is one of the most important holiday destinations in Spain. It has an area of around 2035 square kilometers, around 930,000 inhabitants and is known, among other things, for the more than 3700 meter high volcano Teide, the highest mountain in Spain.