BARCELONA, July 15 (Reuters) – At least 2,000 people have been evacuated as a forest fire burned out of control in the Spanish island of La Palma, authorities said on Saturday, as Europe was gripped by a heatwave.
Many parts of southern Spain saw scorching temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) last week and even higher temperatures are expected next week in Spain and across southern Europe.
The fire in La Palma started in the early hours of Saturday morning in El Pinar de Puntagorda, a wooded area at the north of the island in the Canaries. The blaze forced the evacuation of Puntagorda and neighbouring Tijarafe.
Marcos Lorenzo, the mayor of Tijarafe, told the Spanish television station RTVE that people in the village were evacuated as the fire spread, but it was not clear how many had actually left.
At least 12 houses were destroyed as the fire advanced, said Fernando Clavijo, president of the Canary Islands.
“The number of people who need to be evacuated could rise. It depends on whether we can bring these strong winds under control,” Clavijo told reporters in La Palma.
About 4,500 hectares (11,120 acres) of land have been affected by the fire, authorities said.
The Spanish army deployed 150 of its firefighters to help local crews battle the blaze and other firefighters are arriving from the neighbouring island of Tenerife, Clavijo said.
Four helicopters and four firefighting units on the ground were battling to bring the fire under control in the island, which forms part of a Spanish archipelago off the coast of western Africa.
The forest fire is the first natural crisis on the island since a volcanic eruption in September 2021. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed and many thousands of people were forced to leave their homes when lava began pouring out of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
Ash covered the island for months until the eruption ended three months later.
Source : Reuters