SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE – According to the latest figures, the large forest fire that has been raging on the Canary Island of Tenerife since August 15 has already destroyed almost 15,000 hectares. Authorities estimate that a third of the forest area in Tenerife has gone up in flames.
The devastating fire extends over a circumference of 90 kilometres. The fire is already the one that has destroyed the largest area of all the forest fires declared in Spain so far this year. This is evident from data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
Tenerife is also home to the largest forest mass in the archipelago, with 50,000 hectares of forest area, including very old laurel forests. The flames have affected almost 30% of this area.
Residents return home
Despite the intensity of the flames in some parts, there are several areas where residents have been able to return to their homes. Rosa Dávila, the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, indicated in a press conference on Monday that a technical meeting will be held today on Tuesday to discuss a possible de-escalation. This is to allow the evacuees to return home safely as soon as possible.
Manuel Miranda, the Canarian Government’s Minister of Spatial Planning, praised the exemplary behaviour of the population and asked for patience. He stressed that the primary goal remains to protect people and their property.
Still need a “marathon” of efforts
Although the outlook for the fire area around Izaña and the highlands of Güímar initially seemed bleak, the efforts of the firefighting teams managed to turn the situation around. Federico Grillo, technical director of Emergencies, stressed that another “marathon” of efforts is needed to bring the fire fully under control.
The southern area is proving easier to manage, which has accelerated the return home of many residents. At the moment, the main areas of concern are Izaña and the highlands of Güímar, where the fire seems to have intensified.
Pedro Martínez, chief technical risk of forest fires, reported that there are many hotspots in the fire. That results in re-ignitions, especially during the hot peak hours of the day. However, the situation is more favourable in the Valle de La Orotava, a vast area. The difficult landscape consisting of deep ravines and difficult-to-access zones where the fire is now raging is also cause for concern.