An official said that the forest fires on the popular tourist island of Tenerife in Spain were started deliberately

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands (AP) – Police confirmed Sunday that a massive fire on the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife was started deliberately, Canary Islands regional president Fernando Clavijo said Sunday.

Clavijo said police had opened three lines of investigation but did not say if there had been any arrests.

Better weather helped firefighters make progress overnight in their battle to calm the flames, which have spiraled out of control for the past five days, authorities said Sunday.

“The night was very difficult, but thanks to the work of the firefighters, the results are very positive,” Rosa Davila, the governor of Tenerife, told a news conference.

The Canary Islands have been suffering from drought for most of the past few years, just like most of Spain. the The islands have recorded below average rainfall in recent years Due to changing weather patterns affected by climate change.

Although the blaze in the northeast of the island is nowhere near the main tourist areas in the southwest, the regional government has ordered the evacuation of a state-run hotel in Teide Volcano National Park, in central Tenerife, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the area. fire. It was not immediately clear how many people were staying at the hotel.

Davila said more than 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes since the fire broke out on Tuesday. On Sunday, the islands’ emergency services said 11,600 hectares (29,000 acres) of pine and tree forests had burned.

No injuries have been reported yet, and Davila said that thanks to firefighters, no home has yet been burned.

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The fire, which has been described as the worst in Tenerife in decades, threatens 11 areas of the town surrounding a steep and rugged mountainous area. Getting to the firefighters is very difficult.

Emergency services said the air quality in 19 areas of the town was not good and urged people to stay indoors when possible and wear masks outdoors.

More than 400 firefighters and soldiers have been deployed, as well as 23 helicopters and water transport planes.

Mainland Spain is preparing for another heat wave that will start on Sunday and continue into Thursday. Spain’s weather service said temperatures will gradually rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in parts of the mainland on Wednesday and Thursday.

In Tenerife, the agency predicted maximum temperatures of 30C (86F) for the next week.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System, Spain tops the list of EU countries affected by wildfires so far this year, with 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) burned, ahead of Italy and Greece.

More than 2,000 people have been evacuated Wildfires on the nearby island of La Palma Last month it affected about 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres).

The EU agency said Spain accounted for nearly 40 percent of the nearly 800,000 hectares (2 million acres) burned in the EU in 2022.

The seven Canary Islands are located off the northwest coast of Africa and southwest of Spain. At their closest point, they are 100 kilometers (60 mi) from Morocco.

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Kieran Giles reported from Madrid

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