A wildfire that has been ripping through Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is believed to have been deliberately started.
Law enforcement authorities in Spain have initiated three lines of investigation into the apparent act of arson, although no arrests have been reported yet.
The fire erupted on Wednesday and has since forced more than 12,000 residents to evacuate their homes from over eleven towns.
Canary Islands President, Fernando Clavijo, said on Sunday that the arsonists “put the lives of thousands of people and property at risk.”
Over 11,600 hectares of pine forests and scrubland has been scorched by the fire. Tenerife has not witnessed such a catastrophic fire in decades, and the flames are threatening multiple town areas that flank the rugged mountains.
More than 400 soldiers and firefighters continue to battle the flames. Twenty-three water-carrying helicopters and planes are also in use.
While locals seek refuge in temporary shelters, reports of injuries have been notably absent. However, the poor air quality remains a concern, prompting advisories for residents to remain indoors.
Despite the fire’s location in the northeastern part of the island, away from the popular tourist spots, the regional government took the precaution of evacuating a state-run hotel near the Teide volcano national park, situated around 30 miles southwest of the fire’s epicenter.
After touring the area, Interior Minister Prime Fernando Grande-Marlaska said “We can feel reasonably safe and can hope to get the fire under control in the next few days if the weather cooperates.”
Canada also dealing with arsonists
In Canada, with wildfires raging in Yellowknife and Kelowna, BC, RCMP announced the arrest and charging of four female youths in connection with an arson attempt along Burwash Drive in Yellowknife – while two others suspected of arson continue to remain at large.