Uncontrollable forest fire ravages Tenerife, covering over 5,000 hectares

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wild fire tenerife

TENERIFE – Tenerife has been ravaged since August 15 by a forest fire that has already destroyed more than 5,000 hectares. The fire has been classified as a ‘sixth generation’ fire and is still far from being contained.

The fire, which started on Tuesday last week, remains uncontrolled. Due to strong winds last night, the fire has spread to other areas in the north of the island. This necessitated new evacuations in the municipalities of La Orotava, La Matanza and La Victoria. It has an estimated circumference of 50 kilometres and 26,000 people have already been evacuated. According to the authorities, 2.7 million litres of water have already been used to extinguish the fire. Furthermore, in several municipalities there is unfavourable air quality.

‘Sixth generation’ brand

The technical head of firefighting operations, Pedro Martínez, stated that the fire is “beyond the ability to extinguish”. The fire in Tenerife is classified as a “sixth generation” fire. These fires are known for not being able to be extinguished with water, as the water evaporates before reaching the flames. In such fires, the approach changes completely: the priority shifts to saving villages and concentrating on the fires to prevent further spread.

The municipality of Arafo, where the fire started, is 44% affected by the fire. This is followed by Candelaria with 35% and Santa Úrsula with 20%. The number of people evacuated has risen to more than 26,000 as the fire has spread to ten different local communities.

Difficult weather conditions for firefighting

The weather forecast for the coming weekend is likely to further hinder firefighting efforts. An increase in temperature, low humidity and wind gusts of more than 50 km/h are predicted.

Water supply is problematic

Another concern is the water supply. A breach has been detected in a channel that supplies water to the north of the island. This will lead to water shortages in several municipalities and some parts of the cities of La Laguna and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Cogesa Expats

The President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, has stressed the importance of essential services during this crisis and praised the efforts of all services involved. There are currently more than 226 personnel on the ground and 19 air units trying to fight the blaze.

Clavijo acknowledged the commitment of all the teams involved, saying: “The hours are piling up, the fatigue is growing, but everyone continues to give their best.”

Extent of fire never seen before on the islands

Rosa Dávila, the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, indicated that the fire has reached a size never seen before in the Canary Islands. Her main concern is the safety of the inhabitants. So far, no houses have been destroyed by the fire. However, in La Victoria, in the northwest of the island, some evacuated people received medical care.

Cause of the fire

Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil and Seprona are working hard to investigate the cause of the fire.

Air quality

Air quality has also been seriously affected by the fire. The smoke from the forest fire, which consists of a mix of gases and small particles from the burning of vegetation, has adversely affected the air quality in several municipalities of Tenerife. The Canarian government has indicated that the air is unfavourable in northern municipalities such as Los Realejos and La Orotava, as well as southern municipalities such as Arafo and Güímar. Residents are advised to avoid outdoor activities, especially intense and prolonged physical activities. In addition, it is recommended to close doors and windows and, if you have air conditioning, to set it to recirculation mode with clean filters. Outdoors, the use of FFP2 masks is recommended.

Related: Tenerife forest fire still out of control, worst in 40 years

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