Tenerife: Holidaymakers race for sunbeds with towels
Devastating wildfires ravaging a huge part of Tenerife have been described as “beyond the capacity of extinction” as scores of people are forced to leave their homes.
The fire, which ignited near the border between Arafo and Candelaria, has already engulfed an estimated 1,800 hectares of land, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
Rosa Dávila, the President of the Cabildo of Tenerife, expressed the grim reality of the situation, and said: “The fire has evolved as we had predicted, and is beyond the capacity of extinction.”
Despite intensive firefighting efforts involving aerial support and hundreds of ground troops, the challenging terrain and aggressive behaviour of the flames has hampered containment efforts.
Fernando Clavijo, President of the Canary Islands government, added: “The scenario is not very positive.”
The fire’s intensity and swift advance have forced the evacuation of multiple areas, including Araya, Igueste de Candelaria, and surrounding neighbourhoods.
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Pedro Martínez, the technical head of Forest Risk, highlighted the difficulty of battling the blaze in rugged terrain.
He explained: “The difficult orography of the terrain is making the extinguishing work difficult.” Aerial resources, including 14 aircraft and 270 personnel, have been deployed during the day, with an additional 258 ground troops set to join the overnight firefighting efforts.
Federico Grillo, a forestry engineer and fire analyst, described the fire’s behaviour as “hungry” and stressed that it surpasses human intervention capabilities.
He warned that “the capacity of extinction is lost when the fire has a hungry behaviour like the one observed in the forest fire of Arafo and Candelaria.”
The fire’s impact has been far-reaching, with a dense column of smoke visible from nearly the entire island.
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Ash from the blaze has been reported falling over 20 kilometres away in Santa Cruz and Radazul. The fire’s aggressive spread has prompted the closure of mountain access points and the suspension of local activities, including the Garachico pilgrimage and sporting events.
Counter-fire manoeuvres are also underway and additional firefighting resources, including seaplanes and brigades from neighbouring islands, are being mobilised.
The deployment of aircraft, such as the Bombardier 415 operated by the Spanish Air Force, aims to bolster firefighting operations and contain the fire’s expansion.
As Tenerife battles this unprecedented inferno, authorities are urging residents to exercise “maximum caution” and remain vigilant in the face of the evolving fire threat.
Evacuation centres have been set up to accommodate displaced individuals, including spaces for pets.
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