According to Canary Islands regional President Fernando Clavijo, authorities have established that a wildfire raging on the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife was intentionally sparked. Clavijo stated that police had initiated three lines of investigation but did not specify whether any arrests had occurred.
Authorities said Sunday that improved weather conditions helped firefighters make progress overnight in their attempt to put out the blaze that has raged out of control for the previous five days. “The night was very difficult, but thanks to the work of the firefighters, the results have been very positive,” Tenerife governor Rosa Dávila said during a press conference.
The Canary Islands, like most of mainland Spain, have been suffering from drought for the most of the last few years. Because of changing weather patterns influenced by climate change, the islands have had below-average rainfall in recent years.
Despite the fact that the fire in the northeast of the island is not close to the main tourist attractions in the southwest, the regional administration has ordered the evacuation of a state-run hotel in the Teide volcano national park in central Tenerife, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) southwest of the fire zone. It was unclear how many people were staying at the hotel.
According to The Associated Press, Since the fire began on Tuesday, more than 12,000 people have been evacuated from their houses, according to Dávila. The islands’ emergency services reported that 11,600 hectares (29,000 acres) of pine forest and scrubland had burned on Sunday.
There have been no recorded injuries, and Dávila stated that thanks to the firefighters, no houses have burned thus far. The fire, billed as Tenerife’s biggest in decades, is threatening 11 municipal areas flanked by a high and rocky mountain terrain. Firefighters have exceedingly difficult access.
The emergency services stated the air quality in 19 town districts was poor and recommended residents to stay indoors as much as possible and wear masks when going outside. More than 400 firefighters and soldiers, as well as 23 water-carrying helicopters and planes, have been dispatched.
The whole of Spain is ready for another heat wave that will linger until Thursday. Spain’s state meteorological office predicted that temperatures on the mainland would gradually rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Tenerife, the agency forecasted maximum temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) for the coming week.
According to the European Forest Fire Information System, Spain has been the most impacted EU country by wildfires this year, with 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) destroyed, ahead of Italy and Greece.
Last month, a wildfire on the neighbouring La Palma island displaced about 2,000 people and burned 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres). According to the EU office, Spain accounted for over 40% of the nearly 800,00 hectares (2 million acres) burned in the European Union in 2022.
The Canary Islands are located southwest of mainland Spain and off the northwest coast of Africa. They are 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Morocco at its closest point. They are a popular tourist destination known for their stunning landscapes, mild climate, and diverse range of outdoor activities. The archipelago consists of seven main islands and several smaller ones, all of which have their own unique charm and attractions.
The main islands in the Canary Islands archipelago are:
- Tenerife: The largest and most populous island, home to Mount Teide, which is the highest point in Spain. Tenerife offers a mix of beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, and natural wonders.
- Gran Canaria: Known for its diverse landscapes, including sandy beaches, desert-like dunes, and lush mountains. The capital city, Las Palmas, is a cultural hub.
- Lanzarote: Famous for its unique volcanic landscapes and striking architecture designed by artist César Manrique. The Timanfaya National Park showcases the island’s volcanic features.
- Fuerteventura: Known for its expansive sand dunes, long beaches, and opportunities for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.
- La Palma: Often referred to as “La Isla Bonita” (The Beautiful Island), it is known for its dramatic landscapes, including deep ravines and dense forests.
- La Gomera: Characterized by its lush vegetation and unique whistled language, “Silbo Gomero,” which was historically used for communication across valleys.
- El Hierro: The smallest and least developed of the main islands, it offers a more tranquil and natural experience.
The Canary Islands have a subtropical climate with mild temperatures throughout the year, making them a popular destination for sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. The islands are also known for their cultural events, festivals, and local cuisine, which often features fresh seafood and traditional Spanish dishes.
Overall, the Canary Islands are a diverse and picturesque destination that appeals to a wide range of travelers, from those seeking relaxation on the beach to those interested in exploring unique volcanic landscapes and engaging in outdoor activities.