By now the British media will have picked up on the forest fires that are currently raging in the highland areas of the south of Tenerife.
In a bid to attract attention there will no doubt be very few headlines about the fire that don’t mention the word ‘tourist’ – The Telegraph was quick off the mark with a report titled ‘Forest fire rages near Tenerife tourist park’. It’s the first time that we’ve heard Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, referred to as ‘Tenerife tourist park’. But it’ll do the job of making people who are worried about the effect it will have on their two weeks in the sun buy the newspaper.
There will be more sensationalist headlines as long as the fire lasts. To counteract the nonsense, here are some facts about the fire as taken from the horse’s mouth; i.e. press releases from the Tenerife Government.
First of all the fire poses no threat at all to any of Tenerife’s tourist resorts. It is burning in the hills high above Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje. The main threat has been to small farming communities in the hills of Adeje, Guia de Isora and also to the town of Vilaflor.
Since Sunday, when the fire started, it has spread over an area of 2,000 hectares despite the best attempts of over 500 professional and volunteer fire-fighters and up to 11 helicopters and hydroplanes (three special water-dropping planes arrived from mainland Spain yesterday).
A tinder-dry landscape and a heatwave, which has sent temperatures in the hills into the upper 30s and above, hasn’t helped the situation and during Tuesday 17th July, the fire reached the edge of Vilaflor as well as the boundaries of Teide National Park. Accurate reporting of the situation was hampered by all sorts of stories circulating. At least one, claiming that the fire had reached La Orotava town, was probably caused by people using Google translator when they don’t speak Spanish. Spanish press reports stating that the fire had reached the ‘municipality of La Orotava’ (i.e. the edge of National Park) came out as ‘the town of La Orotava’ when translated.
The latest information from the Tenerife Government (as at 8am on Wednesday 18th July) is that whilst most of the perimeter of the fire has been stabilised there are still areas that haven’t been brought under control. The main concentration of fire-fighting resources will continue to attack the fire at Vilaflor whilst the front heading towards Guia de Isora, although still raging, is about to reach a volcanic area where it’s hoped it will be extinguished.
The fire has been tragically destructive and will have devastated people’s lives, but despite what you might read in the British press over the next few days, it poses no threat to tourists. The only impact it will have on anyone’s holiday at the moment is that they won’t be able to travel to Mount Teide.
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