LA OROTAVA - Firefighters battling a vast wildfire on Tenerife are facing another very difficult night after severe weather conditions worsened the blaze, forcing thousands to flee their homes on the Spanish holiday island, regional officials said. The huge blaze broke out late Tuesday in a mountainous northeastern area of the island, quickly morphing into the Canary Islands’ biggest-ever fire.
“It is a devastating fire... a fire on a completely different scale, a scale that the Canary Islands has never experienced before,” said Rosa Davila, head of the government of Tenerife.
So far the blaze, which now has a perimeter of 70 kilometres (43 miles), has burned through 8,400 hectares (20,800 acres), the equivalent of just over 4.0 percent of Tenerife’s overall surface area of 203,400 hectares.
In an update late on Saturday, Canary Islands regional president Fernando Clavijo said the voracious wildfire had so far displaced “a total of 12,279 people”, citing figures provided by the Guardia Civil police.
Earlier, regional officials had given a figure twice as high, with the emergency services saying “provisional estimates suggest that more than 26,000 people may have been evacuated”, which government officials later clarified was a number “based on census figures” from the areas subjected to evacuation orders. And they did not rule out further evacuations, warning of a difficult night ahead. “Last night was very complicated and tonight is likely to be just as bad, if not worse,” said Clavijo of an overnight battle with “severe weather” characterised by strong winds and higher-than-expected temperatures that saw the flames spreading to the north, forcing