Thousands evacuated in Tenerife as summer wildfire reignites on holiday island

By Isaac M October 6, 2023

Authorities in Tenerife have evacuated about 3,000 people from their homes overnight as a wildfire sparked by high temperatures and strong winds raged in a forest already ravaged by blaze in August.

Emergency services have requested assistance from the military.

Pictures posted on social media showed members of the fire service attempting to handle the fire, with a post saying about 90 members of the service had been deployed.

The blaze is centred on the towns of Santa Ursula and La Orotava in the mountainous northeast of the island, away from the main tourist areas in Tenerife’s southwest.

Both the island’s airports are still operational.

Joe Cawley, a travel writer based in Tenerife, told Sky News: “The impact is solely in the north at the moment. This obviously comes after the larger August fires but this is worrying sign that they have started again.

“The temperatures have increased and we are in that dangerous 30/30/30 situation. That’s 30% humidity, 30km breezes and over 30C, which is what usually triggers these fires.

“This fire is in a particularly steep part of the island and its amongst pine trees, brambles and heather, so there is a lot more smoke being created and I think that’s the main reason behind the evacuations.

“They’ve got seven helicopters in the area so they are doing all they can and this morning we heard reports that they were making progress and that they should soon have control of the perimeter.”

Offering advice to anyone with an upcoming holiday on the island, he said: “Just check your flights to make sure the airports aren’t affected, at the moment they aren’t. There is currently no reason not to come to Tenerife. Just carry on.”

August’s wildfire burned for days, destroying around 37,000 acres of woodland within the national park surrounding the Mount Teide volcano, Spain’s highest peak.

The scene near the town of La Laguna and Los Rodeos airport in Tenerife on Friday night. Pic: AP
Image:
A previous fire raging in August Pic: AP

Thousands were also evacuated then, with most returning to their homes.

Read more:
Will ‘prime fire season’ change our summer holidays forever?
What is the Fire Weather Index and how does it work?

The Canary Islands regional leader, Fernando Clavijo, said that the August fire had been brought under control but was never completely extinguished, with embers still burning in the forest.

“There is less fuel [for the fire], so it shouldn’t get out of hand,” Mr Clavijo said – referring to the already scorched terrain.

The island, in the Atlantic off Africa’s northwestern coast, is on alert for high temperatures that are expected to reach 39C (102F) on Thursday.

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