Five villages in Tenerife evacuated amidst escalating wildfire threat

Five villages in Tenerife face evacuation amidst escalating wildfire threat

A rapidly spreading wildfire, which ignited on Tuesday night, August 15, 2023, in a Tenerife national park, has since spread across 300 ha (741 acres), leading to the evacuation of five villages and sealing off the forest near Mount Teide volcano.

Given the urgency and rapid spread of the wildfire, local authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of the villages of Arrate, Chivisaya, Media Montaña, Ajafoña, and Las Lagunetas. Tenerife’s two airports are still operating normally.

Situated in the northeastern sector of Tenerife, the fire began its destructive path in forested terrains settled within steep ravines. Such topography has intensified the challenges faced by firefighters, further complicating their valiant containment efforts.

Canary Islands regional President, Fernando Clavijo, during a press conference in Tenerife, succinctly encapsulated the direness of the situation, noting that the fire’s intensity and its tricky location were major concerns. He further highlighted the critical mission of curbing the fire’s spread, especially towards the coastal residential zones.

About 10 helicopters are dousing the affected regions with water, while on the ground, the containment operations see a combined force of approximately 150 firefighters and 50 military personnel working meticulously.

However, with the fire’s increasing ferocity, Pedro Martinez, head of Tenerife’s emergency services, has voiced concerns about the blaze’s expansion in mere hours and the emergence of secondary fires. Given the wildfire’s magnitude, officials predict that it might demand more than a single day to be effectively controlled.

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The president of the Tenerife council, Rosa Davila, highlighted further preventive measures by announcing the closure of all mountain access on the island. She emphasized the gravity of the situation by urging both residents and visitors to abstain from venturing into forested regions, citing the escalating fire threat.

This wildfire’s occurrence coincides with a recent heatwave experienced across the Canary Islands. The severe temperatures have rendered many terrains exceedingly dry, subsequently heightening wildfire risks.

Firefighters have already tackled forest fires on the islands of Gran Canaria and La Palma this summer. Both islands are integral constituents of the Canary Islands archipelago.


1 Wildfire in Tenerife national park prompts village evacuations – Reuters – August 15, 2023

Featured image credit: Guardia Civil (stillshot)


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