Thousands evacuated after fire on Spain’s La Palma

Spanish officials said Saturday they had evacuated more than 2,500 people from La Palma in the Canary Islands, where fire has destroyed 11,000 acres of land.

Around 300 firefighters on the ground are working to bring the blaze under control, supported by firefighting aircraft, they added.

“The fire advanced very quickly,” said Fernando Clavijo, president of the Canary Islands regional government.

He blamed “the wind, the climate conditions as well as the heatwave that we are living through” for the swift spread of the blaze.

“It’s a fire that has gathered strength in very little time,” Tourism Minister Hector Gomez told reporters.

Sergio Rodriguez, head of the La Palma Council and the island’s main authority, called on people to respect the evacuation to allow the emergency services to work more easily.

The fire broke out in the morning in the Puntagorda district before spreading quickly, said a statement from local officials.

Tijarafe’s mayor, Marcos Lorenzo, told TVE television that not all the town had been evacuated.

According to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), Spain suffered nearly 500 wildfires in 2022, which destroyed more than 300,000 hectares, the worst figure in Europe.

So far this year, it has lost another 66,000 hectares to fire, according to the latest EFFIS data.

The situation is all the more worrying in a country that has been hit hard by the effects of climate change, with a series of crushing heatwaves as well as less and less rainfall.

The national meteorological agency also registered record highs during exceptionally hot weather in mainland Spain.

Spain’s Canary Islands lie off the northwest coast of Africa.

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