| 20 June 2024, Thursday |

Wildfire on Spanish island forces more evacuations

More people were evacuated from their homes on the Spanish island of Tenerife on Saturday morning as a wildfire raging in the north of the island remained out of control, but the flames have so far avoided major tourist areas.

Fierce flames lit up the night sky late overnight from Friday to Saturday.

The blaze broke out on Wednesday in a mountainous national park around the Mount Teide volcano – Spain’s highest peak – amid hot and dry weather.

Regional leader Fernando Clavijo, speaking late on Friday, said some 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) were affected with a perimeter of 50 km (30 miles), and 7,000 people were evacuated or confined to their homes.

Earlier in the week, Clavijo called the fire the most complex the Canary Islands have faced in 40 years, due to a combination of hot, dry and windy weather, as well as difficult terrain.

More evacuations were ordered on Saturday morning due to worsening weather conditions overnight.

“The weather has changed and we have had to evacuate towns in the north of Tenerife, specifically five areas,” Manuel Miranda, regional councillor for Territorial Policy, Territorial Cohesion and Water, told reporters on Saturday.

Miranda said temperatures had risen overnight, while humidity had dropped and the wind had increased.

He said more evacuations had been necessary because of the “danger and proximity of the fire”, adding that so far authorities “have avoided any human loss… and that is our main objective”.

The island’s popular tourist areas have so far been unaffected and its two airports have been operating normally.

Scorching heat and dry weather this summer have contributed to unusually severe wildfires in Europe and Canada. Blazes on Hawaii’s Maui island earlier this month killed more than 110 people and wrecked the historic resort city of Lahaina.

Scientists say climate change has led to more frequent and more powerful extreme weather events.

  • Reuters