SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands — The regional President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, announced on Sunday that police have determined the devastating wildfire on the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife was intentionally started. While three lines of investigation have been opened, it is unclear whether any arrests have been made at this time.
In a much-needed turn of events, improved weather conditions overnight provided firefighters with the opportunity to make significant progress in their ongoing battle against the uncontrollable blaze. Tenerife governor Rosa Dávila expressed gratitude towards the firefighters’ diligent efforts during a news conference, stating, “The night was very difficult but thanks to the work of the firefighters, the results have been very positive.”
The Canary Islands have experienced prolonged droughts in recent years, mirroring the situation on mainland Spain. Changes in weather patterns influenced by climate change have contributed to below-average rainfall across the islands.
Despite the fact that the fire is located in the northeast of the island, away from the main tourist areas in the southwest, the regional government took precautionary measures and ordered the evacuation of a state-run hotel situated in the Teide volcano national park, approximately 30 miles southwest of the fire zone. The exact number of hotel guests present at the time remains uncertain.
According to Dávila, over 12,000 individuals have been displaced from their homes since the fire began on Tuesday. The islands’ emergency services reported on Sunday that a staggering 29,000 acres of pine forest and scrubland have been ravaged by the flames.
Fortunately, there have been no reported injuries so far, and thanks to the dedicated efforts of firefighters, no residential properties have been lost to the fire at this time.
Massive Wildfire Threatens Towns in Tenerife
A devastating wildfire, reported as the most severe in Tenerife in recent history, is currently posing a significant danger to 11 town areas situated near a rugged mountain region. The treacherous terrain has made it incredibly challenging for firefighters to gain access to the affected areas.
In an effort to combat the inferno, over 400 firefighters and soldiers have been mobilized, along with the assistance of 23 helicopters and planes equipped to carry water.
Meanwhile, Spain’s mainland is bracing itself for yet another heat wave, expected to commence on Sunday and persist until Thursday. The national weather service has forecasted a gradual rise in temperatures, with some parts of the mainland soaring to a scorching 104 Fahrenheit by Wednesday and Thursday.
On Tenerife, meteorologists have predicted average maximum temperatures of 86F throughout the upcoming week.
Tragically, Spain currently leads the list of European Union countries affected by wildfires this year, with a staggering 185,000 acres already consumed by flames. Italy and Greece trail behind in second and third place, respectively.
Just last month, a wildfire on the neighboring La Palma island forced the evacuation of over 2,000 individuals and ravaged approximately 11,000 acres of land.
Overall, Spain accounted for nearly 40% of the almost 2 million acres charred across the European Union in 2022, as per reports by the EU agency.
The Canary Islands, an archipelago located off the northwest coast of Africa and southwest of mainland Spain, are comprised of seven distinct islands. At their closest point, they are approximately 60 miles away from Morocco.