TENERIFE, Canary Islands, Spain (Reuters) – A wildfire on the Spanish island of Tenerife that has forced thousands of people to flee their homes was spreading and remained out of control late on Saturday, with hot, dry and windy weather hampering efforts to contain the blaze.
Late on Saturday, emergency services said the fire was now affecting 10 towns, although 11 had been evacuated as a precaution. No major tourist areas have been affected.
Evacuations were ordered throughout Saturday due to worsening weather conditions overnight. At a news conference late on Saturday, the head of Tenerife’s local government Rosa Davila described the fire as “devastating” and said it had forced new evacuations.
By Sunday morning, regional authorities said 12,279 people had been evacuated, revising down their earlier provisional estimate of 26,000.
Fernando Clavijo, Canary Islands regional leader, said that Sunday was expected to be “very complicated” for firefighters because of adverse weather conditions.
The blaze broke out on Wednesday in a mountainous national park around the Mount Teide volcano – Spain’s highest peak.
It is now covering an area of over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) with a perimeter of 70 km (40 miles), up from 5,000 hectares and a perimeter of 50 km earlier on Saturday.
Popular tourist areas on Tenerife, part of the Canaries archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, have so far been unaffected and its two airports have been operating normally.
Scorching heat and dry weather this summer have contributed to unusually severe wildfires in Europe, including in Spain’s La Palma island in July, and Canada. Blazes on Hawaii’s Maui island earlier this month killed more than 110 people and wrecked the historic resort city of Lahaina.
Scientists say climate change has led to more frequent and more powerful extreme weather events.
(Reporting by Jessica Jones and Nacho Doce; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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