A forest fire has been raging in the north of Tenerife since Tuesday and is spreading rapidly. More than 26,000 people had to leave their homes on this Spanish island by Saturday evening. According to the authorities, “major tourist areas and towns” in the central and southern parts of the island are not at risk of fire. The services announced that they are investigating the cause of the fire.
The fire broke out on Tuesday in the Teide National Park near Mount Teide, a popular tourist attraction in Tenerife in the north. According to the civil defense of the Canary Islands, the element is spreading at high speed in 11 municipalities. Fighting the fire was said to be “practically impossible” due to strong gusts of wind and the dryness of the area.
The representative of the Canarian civil defense Montserrat Roman announced on Saturday afternoon that more than 26,000 people had to leave their homes because of the raging fire. She added that by the end of Saturday “further evacuation of the population is expected”.
Earlier that day, it was reported that over five thousand hectares of forests had burned down.
On Saturday afternoon, the authorities of the Canary Islands issued an alert for very poor air quality in 19 municipalities of Tenerife due to smoke from the fire.
Statement of the authorities
The Tenerife authorities have informed travel agencies that tourist infrastructure has not been affected by the fire, although it has not yet been brought under control. “Major tourist areas and towns” in the central and southern parts of the island “are away from the fire” and are not at risk, local media said, citing an official statement from the authorities.
“Never before has a fire of this size been recorded in the Canary Islands,” according to the fire service. Over 400 soldiers and firefighters equipped with over 50 fire engines and over 20 helicopters participate in extinguishing the fire.
The authorities launched an investigation
On Saturday, the head of the Spanish Interior Ministry, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, confirmed that the services had launched an investigation to determine the circumstances of the fire and find those responsible. – At the moment, however, the investigation is still in the background. Our priority is to stop the progressing fire, the minister said.
On Monday, Tenerife will meet the acting Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez.
“They were the lungs of our island”
As experts explain, the scale of the fire in Tenerife is the result of many factors. In addition to high temperatures and drought, the build-up of combustible material in the forests has played a key role in accelerating the fire’s spread. The inhabitants of the island admit that they are afraid of what they will see when the thick smoke clears.
– That’s where our lives are. We are helpless, we do not know what will happen to us and our homes – one of the evacuated residents of the village of Aguamansa told Reuters. – They were the lungs of our island, and now we have a bare slope..
Antena3, Diario de Avisos, PAP, lavanguardia.com
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ALBERTO VALDES