Wildfires on the Canary Island of Tenerife, which is popular with vacationers, spread much more slowly. Canary Prime Minister Fernando Clavijo told reporters on Friday that unusual and worrying behavior in the flames had returned to normal since the night before. Because of the more relaxed situation, one thinks of lifting the curfew for several thousand residents of the municipality of Rosario.
The fire, which has raged in the north-east of the island since Wednesday night, has covered nearly 3,800 hectares of nature according to the latest official budget. This corresponds to an area of about 5,500 football fields. Through Friday night, the fire was continuously extinguished by more than 220 emergency services. She added that firefighting planes and helicopters were used again since dawn.
Above all, the “normalization” of fire, which the authorities have repeatedly mentioned, gives hope. Meteorologist Victoria Palma, who advises the island’s government, on Thursday spoke of a very particular fire that created a cloud of smoke up to six kilometers high and revealed its meteorological dynamics. In addition, the fire carries away the glowing remains of plants, which, in turn, give rise to new fires. It is not yet clear what caused the fire that broke out near the municipality of Arafa on Friday.
According to Clavejos, this is probably one of the worst fires in Tenerife in the last 40 years. According to official information, the firefighting work is still more difficult due to the hard-to-reach area, but the weather conditions have improved, it said on Friday. 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes when the fires broke out. Emergency shelters have been set up in the gymnasiums.
Although access roads to the Teide volcano were closed as a precaution, according to the Tenerife Travel Authority, normalcy has prevailed in the tourist areas. According to travel company Tui, there are more than 10,000 tourists on the island across the range. She added that there are no travel restrictions yet.
There have already been several fires in Spain this year that have caused more damage than the one in Tenerife. In May, a fire broke out in Cáceres, in the west of the country, destroying nearly 11,000 hectares. According to official figures, a total of about 75,000 hectares have been affected by forest fires this year.
2022 was the most destructive year for wildfires in Spain since the European Forest Fire Information System EFFIS began recording them. According to the measurements of the European Earth observation system Copernicus, a good 306,000 hectares were destroyed in 493 major fires. This is more than 3,000 square kilometers. For comparison: Vorarlberg has an area of about 2,600 square kilometers.
In the Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa, forest fires occur frequently, especially in the summer. It wasn’t until July that a fire in La Palma destroyed nearly 3,000 hectares. Tenerife is the largest island in the archipelago, which is one of the most important holiday destinations in Spain. It has an area of about 2,035 square kilometers, a population of about 930,000, and is known, among other things, for its Teide volcano, which is more than 3,700 meters high.