Europe struggles with increasingly high temperatures. As the fire burns 4,650 hectares of land on the Spanish island of La Palma, around 4000 people are bound to flee from their homes.
In the early hours of Saturday, July 15, a fire wildly spread in El Pinar de Puntagorda. As a result, authorities evacuated thousands of people living in Puntagorda and neighbouring Tijarafe.
Fire on the Spanish Island of La Palma: The Calamities of Climate Change
A heatwave has gripped Europe. These extremely high temperatures have taken hold all over Europe, with Spain, Italy, France, Poland, and Germany likely to experience high temperatures in the coming week.
Human activities are greatly affecting weather conditions around the world. The adverse climate changes are causing deadly disasters, from heatwaves to floods to wildfires.
Forecasters have warned people to prepare for “the most intense heatwave of the summer and also one of the most intense of all time”.
An immense forest fire on the Spanish island of La Palma is being blamed on this heatwave.
RTVE reported that the fire started within the Puntagorda district before spreading uncontrollably. It has received below-average rainfall in the past few years, just like parts of the drought-stricken mainland. This has been caused by changes in weather conditions affected by climate change.
Last week, many parts of southern Spain experienced temperatures as high as 104 Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), leaving woodlands tender and dry. Spain is expected to experience even higher temperatures in the coming week.
Battling the Fire on the Island
The Spanish army deployed around 150 firefighters to help the locals. Additional firefighters from the neighbouring island of Tenerife also joined in the efforts.
Moreover, authorities deployed 300 firefighters and ten aerial units on the ground to bring the wildfire under control on the island. This island forms part of a Spanish archipelago off the coast of western Africa.
The president of Canary Island, Fernando Clavijo, mentioned that the fire spread uncontrollably, burning no less than 20 houses to ashes. The flames have taken over 46 square kilometres. He further added, “The fire has spread very fast, and the fire is out of control.”
The possibility of shifting winds during the night, along with low visibility because of smoke and ash, further worsens the situation. It is increasing the difficulty and danger of evacuating people and operating aircraft.
The mayor of Tijarafe, Marcos Lorenzo, said that the fire spread, leading to the evacuation of people in the village. However, there is uncertainty about how many had actually left.
He pleaded with the residents to be responsible and cooperate with the evacuation operation, as many did not want to leave their homes.
A challenging situation prevails on the ground as the firefighters carry out controlled burns.
The forest fire is the biggest natural disaster to hit La Palma since a prolonged volcanic eruption occurred in the autumn of 2021. It destroyed as many as 2000 buildings, and thousands of people had to leave their homes.