High-level emergency declared in Tenerife as wildfire forces 3 000 to evacuate from Santa Ursula and La Orotava

Forest fires engulf Santa Ursula and La Orotava, causing mass evacuations in Tenerife October 2023

Tenerife authorities called a high-level emergency on Thursday, October 5, 2023, evacuating roughly 3 000 people from Santa Ursula and La Orotava, as firefighters tackled a wildfire, initially ignited on Wednesday and worsened by strong winds and high temperatures.

Authorities in Tenerife evacuated approximately 3 000 residents overnight Thursday and requested assistance from the army’s Military Emergency Unit to manage the escalating crisis.

Around 90 firefighters have been deployed to combat the blaze, which has been exacerbated by high temperatures and strong winds. According to Lope Afonso, the vice president of the regional government of Tenerife, 2 400 people were evacuated from Santa Ursula and an additional 600 from La Orotava as a precautionary measure.

Despite the severity of the event, both of the island’s airports remain fully operational. Furthermore, the fire is centered away from the primary tourist areas, specifically in the mountainous northeast regions of Santa Ursula and La Orotava.

Earlier in August, a wildfire—considered the largest in the history of the archipelago—had destroyed approximately 15 000 hectares (37 065 acres) of woodland surrounding Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak. Fernando Clavijo, the Canary Islands regional leader, confirmed that while the August wildfire was brought under control, it was never fully extinguished. He noted that embers were still burning in the forest.

Consequently, Clavijo indicated that the terrain, already scorched by the August fires, contained “less fuel,” suggesting that the current wildfire may not reach the catastrophic levels of the previous one.


1 Tenerife: Thousands evacuated after wildfire breaks out on popular holiday island – Sky News – October 5, 2023

2 3,000 people flee latest wildfire on Tenerife – AFP – October 5, 2023

Featured image credit: 1-1-2 Canarias (stillshot)

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