Residents of El Rosario watch the forest fire in the municipality, in El Rosario, Spain, 17 August 2023. EFE/Ramon de la Rocha

Thousands evacuated in Tenerife amid worst fire on Canary Islands in decades

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Aug 17 (EFE).- Firefighters in Tenerife were battling one of the worst ever blazes to hit the Canary Islands, the regional president said Thursday.

The fire, which has been raging since Tuesday, has led to 7,600 people being ordered to evacuate their homes, Fernando Calvijo said.

“Last night was very difficult, and fears that this fire could get out of control have become a reality,” Calvijo said, adding that the blaze was the worst on the archipelago “in at least in the last 40 years, if not ever.”

Smoke rises from El Rosario area as seen from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, as the forest fire affecting the area continues out of control, 17 August 2023. EFE/ Alberto Valdes

Sparks of burning material caused by the fire were being swept up by the wind and causing smaller blazes in several areas, meteorologist Victoria Palma said.

Residents in the center of the town of El Rosario have been told to stay at home due to the abundant sparks produced by the fire and to clear the roads for security forces.

More than 100 soldiers have been brought in to help tackle the blaze, according to the Spanish defense ministry.

Palma said the fire, which has produced a column of smoke that is more than 6 km high, was “creating its own weather” due to the intense heat.

Tenerife is one of the most popular Spanish destinations for tourists, with a significant number of foreign citizens visiting throughout the year.  EFE