Thousands evacuated as a Tenerife’s forest fire rages

Thousands evacuated as a Tenerife’s forest fire rages

1 August 2007

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Spain — According to Ricardo Melchior, president of the Cabildo, the perimeter of the bush fire is reported to be 62.8kms covering an area of 13,695 hectares of pine woods, bushland and abandoned farmland although the president stressed that not all of the affected area had been burned and latest estimates put the figure at around 20 per cent of the total. So far some 8,450 people have been evacuated from theirhomes.

The president confirmed that fire fighters are concentrating resources on the upper villages in EL Tanque, Garachico and the Masca mountains in the Buenavista district to try to prevent the flames reaching Monte del Agua (a Laurisilva forest reserve) and Masca hamlet.

According to the president, the eastern front of the blaze is under control and the fire block set up yesterday has prevented the fire from spreading to the Orotava Valley. The western front is being brought under control while the southern front, which affects the Teide National Park, is “dying out” because it is in an area where there is “hardly any combustible material”.

The northern front is proving the most difficult to bring under control, the areas at greatest risk being Icod de los Vinos , Garachico, El Tanque, Santiago del Teide and the upper parts of Buenavista del Norte although the situation is under control in Icod el Alto, San Juan de la Rambla and parts of las Guancha.

There is a separate blaze which broke out yesterday in Chío in Guía de Isora, which is being contained.

Spain’s Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, arrives in Tenerife today after visiting Gran Canaria, which has also been affected by forest fires. She will hold emergency talks with the president of the Canary Islands government Paulino Rivero and the president of the Tenerife Cabildo, Ricardo Melchior, the results of which will be announced in an emergency press conference at 16.00 today.

The emergency team working around the clock to combat the fire consists of 300 people, 34 vehicles, 5 helicopters (four from the regional government, one from the Cabildo) plus a Ministry for the Environment hydroplane. An army unit is also assisting the firefighters and a forest birgade from El Hierro has also been flown in. This afternoon two new hydroplanes and two more helicopters are expected to arrive from the mainland sent in by the Ministry for the Environment. Fire brigades from Tenerife’s consortium and the Teide National Park have joined forces with the National and Municipal Police in the affected areas.

A number of roads have also been closed to traffic: TF-38 (from Chío to Boca de Tauce); TF-344 (from Icod el Alto to La Guancha); TF-375 (from Santiago del Teide to Chío, by way of Arguayo); TF-373 (from Icod de los Vinos to Santiago del Teide); and TF-82 (carretera general del Norte, from kilometre 15,3 al 32,5).

Both airports are functioning normally. As are the north and south motorways. The authorities have asked that everyone stays in or around the coastalareas.

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