Bush Fires Ravage Canary Islands

Bush fires have ravaged the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, with tourists being warned to steer clear of the danger.

As thousands of the islands’ residents have been evacuated from the danger areas, the British Foreign office has put out a warning to UK tourists to maintain contact.

By yesterday afternoon, 8 towns or villages on Tenerife and 10 on La Gomera had been evacuated and sealed off, as it was reported that fire-fighting crews were having difficulty keeping the blazes contained. Included in the areas under threat are a number of Spanish national parks.

Although flights to and from Tenerife are currently unaffected, the British Foreign Office is monitoring developments, and a spokesman said, ‘We are aware of reports, which we are monitoring closely, and we are advising British Nationals to stay in touch.’

The fires have now been ablaze for over a week, and a previous indication that their ferocity was waning was only found to be inaccurate after fire-fighting airplanes that had been helping to douse them had been stood down and sent away. A heat wave that has dried out vegetation is thought to have helped the fires take hold, while stiff breezes have helped to fan the flames. However there is some evidence that the fires were started deliberately, especially on La Gomera, where the flames appear to have been set at two separate points.

Tenerife is a haven for tourists, especially those seeking a winter sun destination. Each year approximately 5 million tourists, mostly from mainland Europe, visit the largest of the Canary Islands.