Firefighters largely control Tenerife blaze: officials

Firefighters largely control Tenerife blaze: officials

19 July 2012

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Spanish – Spanish firefighters brought a wildfire largely under control Thursday after it drove hundreds of people from their homes on the island of Tenerife, authorities said.

“Most of the area of the forest fire affecting Tenerife since Sunday has been stabilised although the northeastern front remains active,” the Canary Islands regional government said in a statement.

The northeastern front is burning in inaccessible green areas near the boundary of the Teide national park, a UNESCO-listed beauty spot and major tourist attraction.

The head of the island’s governing council Ricardo Melchior said the fire had spread over a total area of 5,200 hectares (20 square miles) of which 1,000 hectares were burnt.

Some 1,800 people, who had on Tuesday been evacuated from the village of Vilafor when the fire reached it, were allowed to return home on Thursday, an emergency services spokeswoman said.

Firefighting helicopters have for five days been dumping water on the smouldering hillsides cloaked in dark smoke by the fire on the parched Atlantic island off northwest Africa.

Authorities said on Tuesday the fire had crept a few metres (yards) into a rocky area of the national park, which centres on the Teide volcano, Spain’s highest peak at 3,700 metres (12,000 feet).

Firefighters on Wednesday brought under control a second fire on another of the Canary Islands, nearby La Palma, after it burnt more than 800 hectares and caused several villages to be evacuated, officials said.

Spain has been hit particularly hard by forest fires this year after experiencing its driest winter in 70 years.

The worst fire ravaged 50,000 hectares in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia this month.

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