‘Out of control’ wildfire on Spanish island of Tenerife leads to evacuation of villages

Around 250 firefighters are battling a big wildfire that’s spreading quickly on Tenerife, a popular holiday island in Spain.

The “out of control” fire has led to the closure of roads besides the evacuation of at least five villages, the local media reported.

The fire started on Tuesday night and has been burning in a forested area with steep valleys in the northeast part of the island.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa.

“The fire is out of control, the scenario is not exactly very positive,” the head of the regional government, Fernando Clavijo, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Our goal is for it to stop gaining ground. It was a very hard day,” he added.

He said that the fire has already burned around 1,800 hectares (4,450 acres).

Thirteen planes and helicopters, including three sent from mainland Spain, are working to contain the fire in an area difficult to reach, Mr Clavijo said.

On Wednesday morning, Arrate, Chivisaya, Media Montana, Ajafona, and Las Lagunetas villages were evacuated as a safety measure due to the heavy smoke.

To ensure safety, officials have closed off the roads that lead to the mountains in the northeastern part of the island, reports said.

“I am confident that the more than 200 ground forces that will be active tonight will be able to contain the two most worrying fronts,” Mr Clavijo said on X.

The wildfires are taking place following a heatwave in the Canary Islands, which has made many areas very dry and prone to fires.

“We ask that the population respect all these cuts,” said the head of the archipelago’s civil protection service, Montserrat Roman.

Meanwhile, local authorities have restricted access to the forest surrounding Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain. They have also reported the occurrence of secondary fires in the vicinity.

Rosa Davila, president of the Tenerife Council was quoted as saying by a local radio station that “the blaze has a huge potential, we have asked for additional means”. The blaze is reportedly spreading through ravines and woodlands in Candelaria and Arafo areas – making it difficult for firefighters to tackle.

Ms Davila said helicopters and planes were necessary to tackle the wildfires as the area was steep.

Last month, a wildfire burned out of control on another Spanish island of La Palma, forcing the evacuation of at least 4,000 people. The wildfire and evacuations came nearly two years after a three-month volcanic eruption caused devastation on La Palma. While nobody was killed, around 3,000 buildings were buried along with many banana plantations, roads and irrigation systems.

In the past few weeks, a series of heatwaves have swept across southern Europe, causing temperatures to reach record highs in certain areas of Spain, Greece, Italy, and Albania.

Climate experts emphasise that the climate emergency is significantly raising the chances of extreme weather events occurring and making them more severe.

Meanwhile, Euro News reported that major European airlines like EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, and Wizz Air have not provided any notifications to travellers about potential disruptions to flights to or from Tenerife.