A forest fire erupted on the island of Tenerife, Spain, amid scorching temperatures, resulting in authorities evacuating approximately 3,000 people from their homes.
Intense Firefighting Efforts Underway
On Thursday, October 5, 2023, AFP reported that firefighters, supported by six water-dropping helicopters, were battling to extinguish the blaze in a steep ravine in the northeast of the island. Local official Lope Afonso described this as a precautionary measure.
Residents Flee as Fire Rages
Television footage and videos posted on social media showed smoke billowing from a hillside near remote homes, with helicopters dropping water onto the flames. Approximately 2,400 people were evacuated from the town of Santa Ursula, and another 600 were evacuated from La Orotava.
Tourist Areas Remain Unaffected
Popular tourist areas on Tenerife, part of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, have so far remained unaffected, and two of its airports have been operating normally.
Fire Stabilized, but Challenges Remain
“The location of the fire has stabilized, and we are monitoring its progress to determine whether residents can return to their homes in a few hours,” said island council member Blanca Perez to local radio.
Heat Alert in the Canary Islands
The fire broke out as Tenerife and its neighboring island, Gran Canaria, were under a heat alert, with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius. These islands are located off the northwest coast of Africa and southwest of mainland Spain. The closest point to the mainland, the islands are approximately 100 kilometers from Morocco.
Climate Change Brings Heightened Risks
As global temperatures rise due to climate change, scientists have warned that heatwaves will become more frequent and intense.
Efforts to Contain the Blaze
The forest fire on Tenerife, one of Spain’s picturesque Canary Islands, sparked a significant response from firefighting personnel and local authorities. The use of six water-dropping helicopters, a common strategy for battling wildfires, underscored the seriousness of the situation. These aircraft are essential for delivering substantial amounts of water directly onto the flames, helping to slow the fire’s advance and protect populated areas.
Authorities Take Swift Action
Authorities took swift action to evacuate residents from vulnerable areas, with approximately 2,400 people from Santa Ursula and 600 others from La Orotava forced to leave their homes. This proactive approach aims to ensure the safety of the island’s inhabitants and minimize the potential loss of life in the face of a fast-spreading wildfire.
While the forest fire threatened local communities, the island’s popular tourist destinations remained unscathed. Tenerife boasts beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors from around the world.
Fortunately, these areas were not directly affected by the fire, and two of the island’s airports continued to operate normally. However, the proximity of the fire serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present risk of wildfires in regions susceptible to dry and hot weather conditions.