Yesterday, an out-of-control wildfire in Spain’s Canary Islands threw flames 160 feet into the air. Emergency workers had to evacuate more than 8,000 people . . . and the fire is still raging.
Summer is wildfire season worldwide. Pushed along by wind, sparks can cause dry trees, grass, and leaves to burst into flames. Wildfires can travel up to 14 miles an hour—faster than most humans can run.
The Canary Island blaze began Saturday afternoon. It has charred over 14,000 acres in just 48 hours, according to the government of Gran Canaria, a volcanic island off northwest Africa. Presently, the fire is racing across parched woodlands into Tamadaba Natural Park, at the center of the island.
Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres says 1,100 firefighters fought the fires on Monday—along with 14 water-dropping aircraft.
Local fire officials say emergency workers faced huge flames and gusting winds that blew embers into the air. The sparks started other fires as summer temperatures reached nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Famous for its beaches and mountains, Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas, are popular European vacation destinations and some of the most beautiful parts of God’s creation.
Wildfires are common in southern Europe during the parched summer months but changing habits and lifestyles have made woodlands more vulnerable, experts say.
Gran Canaria emergency chief Frederico Grillo believes recent blazes are much worse—“nothing like those we used to have,” when families worked in the countryside. In those days, residents kept forests trimmed and cleared.
Grillo says that even if the island used its entire yearly budget for forest fire prevention, workers could only clear 30% of its woodlands—and the island would still have large amounts of unreachable areas due to its steep mountains and deep ravines.
(Flames from a forest fire burn close to houses on Spanish Gran Canaria. Cabildo de Gran Canaria via AP)