A massive wildfire that broke out in a national park on the Spanish island of Tenerife has forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people and burned over 2,600 hectares of land, according to the regional authorities.
The fire, which started on Tuesday night near the border between Arafo and Candelaria, has been described as “out of control” and “the most complex” to hit the Canary Islands in the last 40 years by the region’s leader Fernando Clavijo.
The fire has spread to both flanks of steep ravines near the Mount Teide volcano, Spain’s highest peak, and has obstructed access to the area. More than 370 personnel and 17 firefighting aircraft, including three sent from mainland Spain, have been deployed to control the blaze, but the hot and dry weather conditions have hampered their efforts.
The villages of Arrate, Chivisaya, Media Montana, Ajafona and Las Lagunetas were evacuated on Wednesday morning as a precaution because of thick smoke. Residents were seen fleeing with their belongings and pets as flames approached their homes. Some residents also had to remove explosives from their properties as a safety measure.
The wildfire in Tenerife follows a heatwave that left parts of Spain tinder dry. Temperatures in Tenerife reached over 35 degrees Celsius over the weekend and into the first part of this week, which is above average for this time of year. The heat is expected to increase again in Europe next week and reach potentially record-breaking levels.
Wildfires have raged in numerous parts of the world this year, including Northern Africa, Hawaii, Canada and Europe. Scientists say that heatwaves have become more likely due to the climate crisis, and as global temperatures rise, they are likely to become more frequent, intense and widespread.