Forest fire in Tenerife: Thousands flee as firefighters battle ‘out of control’ blaze | world news

Thousands of people have had to flee their homes in Tenerife as firefighters and the military struggle to contain an ‘out of control’ wildfire.

Nearly 4,500 people were ordered to leave villages and campsites after the blaze started on Wednesday, with thousands more told to stay indoors.

The fire has already burned at least 6,425 acres.

“This is probably the most complicated fire we have had on the Canary Islands, if not ever, at least in the past 40 years,” regional chief Fernando Clavijo said.

He said the blaze was currently “out of control” and it was a race against time before temperatures rise again this weekend.

Santa Cruz, the capital of the island, is 20 km from the flames.

TenerifeThe tourist board said the blaze was not near any of the main holiday areas and towns, which would operate normally.

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Water bomber planes managed to stabilize the blaze south of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, but it remained uncontrollable on the northern flank.

“When you go out you start to choke. It’s like you have something stuck in your throat,” said Alba Gil, 37, who lives in the village of La Esperanza.

Firefighters worked overnight on the flames near Arafo in Tenerife
Firefighters worked overnight on the flames near Arafo in Tenerife

Elianna Diaz with her daughter and their horse in El Rosario, Tenerife
Elianna Diaz with her daughter and their horse in El Rosario

More than 3,800 people have been told to stay home due to poor air quality, civil protection chief Montse Roman said, and more evacuations could follow.

Access to the mountains was closed, but the island’s two airports would operate normally.

Seventeen aircraft and about 350 firefighters and military personnel are involved in the firefighting effort so far.

Seventeen aircraft are working on the fire, authorities said.  Photo: AP
Seventeen aircraft are working on the fire, authorities said. Photo: AP

Flames progress through the forest near the town of El Rosario, as a wildfire continues to burn in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, Wednesday August 16, 2023. A wildfire out of control on the Spanish island of Tenerife burned some 2,600 hectares (6,400 acres) of land and forced the evacuation of some 300 people from several small towns, Canary Islands regional president Fernando Clavijo said on Thursday.  (Europa Press via AP)
Smoking near a forest in El Rosario

Mr Clavijo said the perimeter of the fire was nearly 19 miles (30 km) long.

“We’re watching the big mountain and the fire, we’ve seen this firewall and we’ll see if they can control it, the situation looks pretty bad,” said neighborhood resident Celestino Suarez, 53.

A heatwave of over 40C (104F) on the island last week left much of the ground dry.

A combination of satellite images shows the island of Tenerife before and during the wildfire, Spain on August 13, 2023 (left) and August 16, 2023 Pic: Planet Labs PB
Satellite images of Tenerife from August 13 to 16

Tenerife is the latest place to experience an unusually severe forest fire this summer.

A fire near La Palma last month affected around 11,000 acres and led to more than 2,000 people being brought to safety.

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The most devastating wildfire in recent months has occurred in Hawaii, where at least 106 people have died when flames tore through a popular Maui town.

Scientists say climate change is helping to make extreme weather events more frequent.

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