The European heatwave scorched much of the continent over the summer, causing wildfires in in Sicily, Greece, Portugal, and Tenerife, one of Spain’s most popular holiday hotspots. An ‘out of control’ blaze began on Tuesday, August 15, which destroyed over 4,000 acres of land, and meant at least five villages were evacuated.
The fire was eventually contained but never completely extinguished. Recent temperatures, which are unseasonably high for early October, have caused the fire to spread again over the northeastern parts of the island. This is everything we know so far about the Tenerife wildfire and what it means for travel to the island.
Where are the fires in Tenerife?
The fire originally began on Tuesday, August 15 in a forested area at the foot of the Mount Teide volcano, and ripped through woodland in the Candelaria and Arafo region. The re-ignition of the blaze has threatened the towns of Santa Ursula and La Orotava, and around 3,000 people have been evacuated as a precaution.
What started the fires in Tenerife?
It was announced that the original blaze was started deliberately, according to Canary Islands regional president Fernando Clavijo. Unseasonably high temperatures for this time of year are why it has begun to spread again.
According to Rosa Davila, head of Tenerife's local government, who spoke to Reuters, 'The temperatures will remain higher [than usual], so we expect more fires to be reactivated in the area.'
Are airlines still flying to Tenerife?
According to the Times, Tenerife's South and North airports are operating as normal. There have been no reports of delayed or cancelled flights so far.
Is it safe to travel to Tenerife?
The outlook on these fires is more positive than the events in August. Though the temperatures are worrying, they are nowhere near as extreme as the island’s summer highs, meaning the fire should be easier to contain.
Fernando Clavijo, the Canary Islands regional leader, said ‘There is less fuel [for the fire], so it shouldn't get out of hand.’
The blaze is only affecting the northern part of the island, whereas the majority of tourists visit the southern region.
Can I cancel my trip and get a refund?
In most cases, you will not get a refund if you cancel your trip. However, you’re advised to contact your travel provider directly. Some airlines and travel providers may be offering more flexibility or compensation.
What is the UK Foreign Office saying?
The UK Foreign Office has not yet issued specific guidance on the Tenerife wildfires. Their website has general advice on coping with extreme temperatures in Spain as well as advice on staying safe in the event of forest fires.
The latest on Spain’s heatwave
Spain has been struggling with record-breaking temperatures this summer as a result of the European heatwave. The country experienced three major heatwaves, with some parts of the country seeing highs 44C.
AEMET, Spain's national weather service, registered six consecutive days of unseasonably high temperatures between September 28 and October 4. Paired with the dry and windy conditions on the island, fires are at a greater risk of spreading.
Why are wildfires in Europe becoming more common?
Blazes also broke out in Sicily, Greece and Portugal this summer. These extreme weather events are said to be a direct result of climate change. The extreme temperatures and drier, windier conditions are only making wildfires across the continent more likely in the future.
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