Teide Observatory on Tenerife narrowly saved from flames

by Lorraine Williamson
Teide Observatory

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE – The Teide Observatory, one of the most important for astronomical observation has been narrowly saved from the major forest fire that has been ravaging Tenerife for almost a week. The telescopic installations are located on the volcano Teide, the highest point of Tenerife and the Iberian Peninsula. 

Rafael Rebolo, director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), feared the fire would destroy the scientific installations. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of the fire brigade, the telescopes of the Observatorio del Teide have been preserved. Nearly 60 people worked day and night to protect the installations. 

Employees of the Centro de Investigación Atmosférica de Izaña of the Spanish weather agency Aemet remain vigilant due to the advancing fire in the vicinity where their scientific installations are located. The staff of the Teide Observatory was already evacuated last Thursday. 

Both Aemet and IAC hope that the fire will be fully contained in the coming hours. And, furthermore, that a comprehensive assessment of the damage can take place soon. 

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Scientific installations narrowly escape flames 

According to Rebolo, the disaster was about to happen as the fire approached on Saturday. The flames came as close as 40 metres from the French Themis telescopes and the German Stella telescopes, and 150 metres from the Canary Islands Quijote telescopes. 

Worse than the heaviest blizzards or hurricane winds 

According to Rebolo, this is one of the most extreme situations the Teide Observatory has ever faced. It is much worse than heavy snowstorms or hurricane-like winds. Although a final assessment has not yet been made, it cannot be ruled out that some damage has been done to both scientific installations. 

Also read: Tenerife has lost a third of its forest area due to fire 

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