Spanish firefighters on Monday battled a forest fire that raged for three days on the wooded slopes of La Palma in the Canary Islands, temporarily forcing the evacuation of more than 4,000 residents.

The fire, which Spanish authorities say has burned about 10,000 acres, could be a preview of weather-related crises to come this summer in Europe. The southern part of the continent is in the middle of a heat wave that dries up fields, increasing the risks of wild fires.

Local authorities said Monday that more favorable weather conditions helped firefighters slow the advance of the blaze, and some residents were allowed to return to their homes. “The weather helped us,” Sergio Rodríguez, the president of the local government council in La Palma, said in a press conference on Monday.

More than 500 firefighters tried to control the fire, aided by several water-carrying helicopters making regular circles over the flames to extinguish them.

The fire on La Palma, a small island in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, started in the early hours of Saturday in a wooded area lined with houses. It quickly engulfed large parts of the hilly terrain, burning approximately 20 houses and buildings and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.

“People come first, then the houses and then put out” the fire, Fernando Clavijo, the president of the regional government of the Canary Islands, told reporters on Saturday.

The wildfire is big enough that satellite shots taken by NASA showed plumes of smoke rising from the fire in the northwestern part of the island. Pictures shared by local security services showed white columns of smoke advancing through the mountains of the island.

Mr. Clavijo said that the fire spread quickly because of “the wind, the climatic conditions and the heat wave that we are experiencing.”

Temperatures in the Canary Islands soared during the heat wave. Local authorities said the region has experienced below-average rainfall in recent years, as has drought-stricken mainland Spain.

Spain’s weather agency has warned that the combination of drought and high temperatures increases the risk of forest fires, a phenomenon the country knows all too well.

Last summer, dozens of wildfires tore through Spain for days, displacing thousands of residents and consuming a record 750,000 acres, according to data of the European Forest Information System.

Scientists are now concerned about wildfires occurring earlier and earlier in the year, as summer-like temperatures are now being recorded more often in the spring.

Spain’s first major fire of 2023 occurred in March. The next month, Spain experienced its hottest spring on record, with April temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in Andalusia.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *