Tenerife branded tinder box as devastating wildfires rip through Canary Island

The “most complicated blaze” seen by local officials in decades continues to ravage northern Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands.

A British expat painted a clear and worrying image of the wildfires blazing through the Spanish holiday hotspot, which have prompted the evacuation of thousands of people and the loss of acres of land.

The Tenerife-based UK national, Lee Carnwell, told ITV: “The island has been super hot these past few weeks and all we needed was a small spark for everything to catch, which is exactly what happened.”

Speaking to the camera as thick plumes of smoke rise from the ground just a few kilometres away, Mr Carnwell added: “They are doing planes, they are doing helicopters, we have hundreds of people on the ground who are fighting this thing, trained firefighters – even the local people are clearing out their fields in order to help stop this thing spreading, because everything is like a tinder box here.”

The wildfires started on Wednesday night in the mountainous areas of Arafo and Candelaria but, given the dry terrain and hot weather, it is feared they may continue to spread and get dangerously close to more villages and cities.

READ MORE: Map shows Tenerife wildfires ‘out of control’ with holiday homes evacuated

More than 7,600 people have either been evacuated or told to stay indoors, as there is concern not just for the blaze but also for the air quality, which the thick smoke is compromising.

The blazes, which currently have a perimeter of 33km, have been described as “out of control” by the region’s leader, Fernando Clavijo.

Speaking bluntly on Thursday about the developing tragedy, he said: “The Tenerife fire is out of control; the scenario is not exactly very positive.”

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He also described the situation as “probably the most complicated blaze we have had on the Canary Islands, if not ever, at least in the last 40 years”.

More than 250 firefighters backed by 17 planes and helicopters – including three coming from mainland Spain – have been battling the fires.

Extreme temperatures and “specific meteorological conditions” caused by the fire have turned the area into a virtual oven, the official added.

Temperatures in the Canary Islands have surpassed 40C in multiple areas over the past few days, as Spain lived through its third heatwave of the summer.

Almost 950,000 people live on the island, including 45,000 Britons. Thousands more head to Tenerife for their summer holidays every year.

Many are still flocking to the region, as the southern area of Tenerife, the most popular among holidaymakers, is for now unaffected by the blazes.

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