Crews Won't Be Able to Put Out Canary Islands Fire

Inferno is 'beyond our capacity to extinguish it,' government says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2023 2:00 PM CDT
Thousands Flee Canary Islands Fire
Flares are seen on the horizon as the fire advances Saturday through the forest toward the town of La Laguna and Los Rodeos airport in Tenerife, Canary Islands.   (AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez)

Thousands more residents of Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands have fled their homes as a wildfire that authorities deemed "out of control" raged on for a fourth day. The regional government for the Canary Islands said that 4,000 more people were ordered to evacuate on Saturday. Those were in addition to the 4,500 people who on Friday were forced to move out of harm's way on the Atlantic island that is home to around a million people and is also a popular tourist destination. That figure of more than 8,000 evacuees is expected to rise, and perhaps sharply, the AP reports.

Emergency services for the Canary Islands said later that the number of evacuees "could surpass 26,000," according to provisional calculations based on the island's census. The service added that all those people who need somewhere to take refuge would be directed to shelters. The regional government said that "the fire is beyond our capacity to extinguish it" due to hot and dry conditions and high winds that have fanned the huge flames. Firefighters have been unable to establish a perimeter around the blaze that has consumed at least 12,355 acres. "We have never seen a fire of this dimension on the Canary Islands," the island's governor, Rosa Dávila, said. No injuries have been reported since the fire broke out late on Tuesday.

Some 265 firefighters battled the blaze with the help of 19 aircraft, including units from the mainland. Reinforcements are on the way, the central government said. The fire is located in a steep and craggy mountain area with pine trees, with several municipalities on its flanks. Access for firefighters is extremely difficult. The regional chief of the archipelago, Fernando Clavijo, said police are investigating the cause of the fire. The Canary Islands have been in drought for most of the past few years, like most of mainland Spain. The islands have recorded below-average rainfall in recent years because of changing weather patterns impacted by climate change, per the AP. The seven-island archipelago is located off the northwest coast of Africa and southwest of mainland Spain.

(More wildfires stories.)

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