Defense officials in Spain say dozens of soldiers have been dispatched to help with firefighting efforts in the Canary Islands, where some 4,000 people have been evacuated from the island of La Palma as wildfires claimed at least 4,500 hectares and threatened communities in Punta Gorda.
Additional fires, including the Arafo fire on Tenerife and the El Sequero fire in Gran Canaria, have been brought under control, according to islands President Fernando Clavijo. High temperatures, wind, and humidity levels have been factors for firefighters battling the out-of-control blazes on La Palma.
Fire teams said they focused on the right flank of the La Palma blaze, where fire had the greatest potential to affect houses and other assets. The Forest Fire Intervention and Reinforcement Teams (EIRIF) reported animal rescues but no injuries to people.
The islands, a territory of Spain off the western coast of North Africa, have been dealing with a heat wave that’s swept across nearby Morocco and Algeria. The Moroccan cities of Benni Mellal, Oujda, and Marrakech all recorded temperatures of 46.6°C (116 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher earlier this week.
On Sunday, high temperatures in inland Algeria reached 46.6°C at In-Salah and 46.3°C at Adrar. Along the Mediterranean, the airbase community of Decimomannu on Italy’s Sardinia reached a high temperature of 41.4°C and towns in southern Spain’s Andalusia region registered temperatures above 40.0°C.
Image: EIRIF Canary Islands