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La Palma Wildfire ‘Out of Control’ as it Engulfs Over 4,600 Hectares and Forces Evacuation of 4,000 Residents

BayRadio | July 17, 2023
Palma Fire 2

A new emergency looms over the Canary Island of La Palma. The wildfire, which broke out in the municipality of Puntagorda, home to 2,300 residents, continues to advance without being currently possible to contain. “The fire has spread very rapidly due to the wind, weather conditions, and the heatwave, leaving behind abundant fuel,” explained Clavijo in statements to the media on Saturday.

“The fire is out of control,” he added.

So far, the flames have affected approximately 4,600 hectares of land, resulting in the destruction of up to 12 houses. Over 4,000 residents have been evacuated from the municipalities of Tijarafe and Puntagorda, as well as some homes in El Paso, areas near the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, and the Roque de los Muchachos astronomical observatory.

Strong gusts of wind have reactivated the tail of the fire in Garafía. The fire is now approaching the Caldera de Taburiente in the Los Brecitos viewpoint area, and its behavior “raises concerns that it may enter the National Park,” according to the Government. The President has appealed to residents to act responsibly.

The La Palma Island Council has closed all island hiking trails, as well as access and transit in general, to forest tracks located in high-risk fire zones and public utility forests.

The fire has engulfed agricultural fields, shrubbery, pine forests, and residential areas. Approximately 300 individuals from various emergency response teams are actively working on the ground.

The islands have experienced a heatwave over the past week, with Wednesday recording the highest temperatures in Spain.

The towns of Aldea de San Nicolás and San Bartolomé de Tirajana, both in Gran Canaria, reached temperatures of 41.8 and 40.6 degrees Celsius, respectively.

La Palma was not spared from this phenomenon, as the municipality of Puntagorda recorded temperatures as high as 40.3 degrees Celsius. In addition to the La Palma fire, two other smaller fires broke out on Saturday in the south of Gran Canaria and in Tenerife.

La Palma, with a population of just over 75,000, has one of the highest forest densities in the archipelago. The island experienced a major wildfire at the end of August 2020 in the municipality of El Paso, just a year before the volcanic eruption occurred in the same area. That fire affected approximately 1,200 hectares in total, with an estimated 800 hectares of Canary Island pine, grassland, shrubbery, some vineyard crops, and a few homes being burned.

Written by BayRadio

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