The World Forum - July 19th, 2024

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Wildfire on Spain's popular tourist island of Tenerife was started deliberately, official says


Canary Islands regional President Fernando Clavijo said Sunday that police have confirmed that a wildfire raging on the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife was started deliberately.

Clavijo said police had opened three lines of investigation but did not say if there had been any arrests.

Improved weather conditions helped firefighters make advances overnight in their battle to tame the blaze that has raged out of control for the past five days, authorities said Sunday.

The Canary Islands have been in drought for most of the past few years, just like most of mainland Spain. The islands have recorded below-average rainfall in recent years because of changing weather patterns impacted by climate change.

Although the blaze in the northeast of the island is not near the main tourist areas in the southwest, the regional government ordered the evacuation of a state-run hotel in the Teide volcano national park, in central Tenerife, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) southwest of the fire zone. It was not immediately clear how many peope were staying at the hotel.

Davila said that more than 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes since the fire started Tuesday. The islands' emergency services said Sunday that 11,600 hectares (29,000 acres) of pine forest and scrubland had been burned.

No injuries have yet been reported and Davila said that thanks to the firefighters, no houses have been burned so far.

The fire, described as the worst in Tenerife in decades, is threatening 11 town areas flanking a steep and craggy mountain area. Access for firefighters is extremely difficult.

The emergency services said air quality in 19 town areas was not good and urged people to stay indoors when possible and wear masks outdoors.