LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE – A forest fire that broke out on Thursday in Los Realejos on the north side of the Canary Island of Tenerife has now spread over five municipalities. Here, 585 residents have been evacuated.
The wind blows less strongly and the humidity has risen, but the high temperatures work in favour of the flames. The President of the Canary Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, reported on Saturday that the area affected by the Level 2 fire is already 2,100 hectares. However, conditions are now more favourable and “better than we expected” after a difficult night. This morning 2,000 hectares were burned. So, during the day the progress of the fire has slowed down, which is good news,” Torres said.
The government has indicated that the increase in humidity and the decrease in wind intensity (which is below 30 kilometres per hour) “will favour firefighting efforts”. However, the high temperature remains an issue.
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Five municipalities affected
For this reason, he indicated that some parts of the municipality of La Orotava – the fifth city to be affected by the fire, along with Los Realejos, San Juan de la Rambla, Icod de Los Vinos and La Guancha – had to be evacuated.
Since last Thursday, the day the emergency started, 585 people have been evacuated, according to the regional newspaper El Dia. Torres has noted that all of these evacuations were carried out “to avoid problems as the fire spreads”. The source of most concern is the one that runs towards the valley of La Orotava, where many people live.
The entire perimeter is active
The technicians explained that the fire has already entered the municipality of Icod de Los Vinos. But its progress has stopped in La Orotava. However, they point out that the entire perimeter is still active. The president indicated that there are 13 air assets. Furthermore, a second seaplane from Malaga has been added, and arrived in the course of Saturday. More than 150 people work on the ground, which the president says provides ample resources for close coordination.
However, it has also announced that its government will ask the Ministry of Defense for more assistance from the UME Military Emergency Unit.
Fight against time
“The troops make the most of the daytime hours trying to overcome the difficulties. The complicated orography of the terrain is added to this.” Finally, the regional representative pointed out that “no one can enter the affected areas”. He indicated that several foreigners were stopped during the day who wanted to go hiking. They have been warned by the security forces.
Flames 60 metres high
During the night from Friday to Saturday, the wind suddenly turned 180 degrees and this blazed the flames to a height of 60 metres. With this, the fire also reached Icod de Los Vinos. As a result, the fire grew from 500 hectares to 2,000 hectares with a circumference of 20 kilometres in a few hours.
The Minister of Security of the Government of the Canary Islands, Julio Pérez, pointed out that the weather has been “difficult” at night, mainly due to the wind, which was “very variable and with greater intensity than expected” and flames up to 60 metres high, which makes extinguishing “more difficult”.