• Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

Thousands of people were evacuated as firefighters battled to contain the La Palma wildfire

Thousands of people were evacuated as firefighters battled to contain the La Palma wildfire

Firefighters were trying to contain a wildfire that was raging out of control, forcing the evacuation of at least 4,000 people on the Spanish island of La Palma, authorities said Sunday. The fire in La Palma started early Saturday morning in El Pinar de Puntagorda, in the north of the island, necessitating the evacuation of people from the villages of Puntagorda and neighboring Tjarafe.

Ten aerial units and 300 firefighters battled wildfires on the island, part of the Canary Islands archipelago off the coast of West Africa, which has experienced temperatures similar to those seen during a heat wave hitting southern Europe. “It’s difficult, it’s been a bit difficult because of the changing winds and the heat of the last days, but we’re holding on,” firefighter Jose Fernandez, 46, told Reuters.

Firefighters burned an area to prevent the fire from spreading to a road. “Now we are going to conduct a technical fire on this perimeter. We will start burning that slope and it will come down and stop on the road,” firefighter Manuel told Reuters.

“That’s what we’re going to do to make this whole area safe and save a home. At night the wind is going to come down from the top of the mountain and if we don’t close this area it might jump. Canary Islands president Fernando Clavijo said at least 20 homes had been destroyed by the fire.

“There has been some resistance to local people leaving their homes, but I urge people to be responsible,” Clavijo told reporters in La Palma. More than 4,650 hectares (11,490 acres) have been burned, officials said.

A forest fire on Tenerife, one of the eight Canary Islands, forced the evacuation of 50 people and destroyed 60 hectares on Saturday, authorities said. Spain’s King Felipe VI phoned Clavijo on Saturday to express his support for the people of La Palma, the Spanish royal family said.

The forest fire is the island’s first natural crisis since the volcano erupted in September 2021. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed and thousands of people were forced to flee their homes when lava began to flow from the Cumbre Vija volcano. Ash covered the island for months until the eruption ended three months later.

(This story has not been edited by DavidDiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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