2,000 evacuated in La Palma wildfire in Spain’s Canary Islands; official says blaze ‘out of control’

by Michael Nguyen
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Over 2,000 individuals have been forced to evacuate as an uncontrollable wildfire ravages La Palma, located in Spain’s Canary Islands. Approximately a dozen homes have already been destroyed, according to authorities.

The fire has engulfed an extensive area of about 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres), with officials issuing warnings that the situation may exacerbate due to the current heat wave, which has left the terrain extremely dry and susceptible to ignition.

Fernando Clavijo, the regional president of the Canary Islands, expressed concern over the rapid spread of the fire and its uncontrollable nature. He appealed to residents to act responsibly and prioritize their safety by adhering to evacuation orders.

Clavijo further highlighted the potential risks posed by shifting winds during the night, which could complicate the ongoing evacuation efforts. Presently, ten aircraft are engaged in combating the fire, and additional water-dropping planes are expected to arrive soon.

These developments occur nearly two years after a three-month volcanic eruption on La Palma that resulted in extensive devastation. Although there were no casualties, approximately 3,000 structures, numerous banana plantations, roads, and irrigation systems were buried under the volcanic debris.

The current wildfire is confined to the western side of La Palma, predominantly encompassing wooded, hilly terrain interspersed with residential properties. This particular area was unaffected by the volcanic eruption in 2021.

Vicente Rodríguez, the mayor of Puntagorda, revealed that the fire originated within his municipality. He emphasized that the region, like many parts of the drought-stricken mainland, has experienced below-average rainfall in recent years, attributing this to changing weather patterns influenced by climate change.

The wildfire coincides with a heat wave sweeping across southern Europe. Spain has already witnessed record-breaking temperatures in 2022 and this spring, coupled with a prolonged drought. Authorities and forestry experts are deeply concerned about the potential for a challenging wildfire season, as virulent fires have been reported as early as March.

La Palma, home to approximately 85,000 residents, is one of eight islands comprising Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago off the western coast of Africa. The islands are situated around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Morocco at their closest point.

This report includes contributions from Frank Griffiths in London.

For comprehensive coverage of climate and environmental news, visit https://bigbignews.net/climate-and-environment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about wildfire

How many people have been evacuated due to the wildfire in La Palma?

Over 2,000 people have been evacuated as a result of the uncontrollable wildfire in La Palma, Spain’s Canary Islands.

How much area has been affected by the wildfire?

The wildfire has affected an area of about 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) in La Palma.

What is the cause of concern regarding the wildfire and the evacuation operation?

There is concern about shifting winds during the night, which could make the evacuation operation more dangerous.

Did the wildfire occur in the same area affected by the volcanic eruption?

No, the wildfire is on the western side of La Palma and did not directly impact the area affected by the volcanic eruption in 2021.

How has climate change contributed to the wildfire situation?

Changing weather patterns influenced by climate change have resulted in below-average rainfall, creating drought conditions that make the terrain more susceptible to wildfires.

Is there any connection between the wildfire and the ongoing heat wave?

Yes, the wildfire coincides with a heat wave hitting southern Europe, including La Palma. The heat wave has contributed to the dryness of the terrain, making it more prone to fires.

How many aircraft are involved in fighting the wildfire?

Currently, ten aircraft are battling the wildfire in La Palma.

What was the impact of the volcanic eruption on La Palma?

The volcanic eruption that occurred approximately two years ago caused extensive devastation, burying around 3,000 buildings, banana plantations, roads, and irrigation systems. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported.

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