A flaming nuisance!
British media put boot into Tenerife with horrendous fire stories
ANYONE reading reports in theUKpress over the past week could be forgiven for thinking Tenerife was ablaze, with thousands of people fleeing for their lives.
Absolute twaddle! Yes, we’ve had a recurrence of fires following last month’s scare. We even had three fresh ones on Wednesday, which were rendered safe within hours.
But even as Ricardo Melchior, Tenerife Cabildo President, was announcing on Monday that the situation on the Island would soon be downgraded to a “level 1” fire – the online UK news providers were saying that the Tenerife blaze was raging out of control, and were advising tourists to contact their tour operators.
It caused panic among thoseUKresidents with family here inTenerife, and many Tenerife Expats living here receiving calls and texts from friends and family asking if they were okay.
Then, on Monday night, both the BBC and ITV evening news over-dramatised the forest fires here, causing more panic inBritain.
So who generated this false information?Canarian Weeklyspoke on Monday evening with the Foreign & Commonwealth office inLondon, whose spokesperson denied they had issued a statement starting with the words: “The Foreign & Commonwealth office advise …”
True, the situation on La Gomera was far worst as the fire ripped though the forest, causing many villagers to be evacuated from their homes as a precaution.
Yet, for some reason, Tenerife was bracketed with La Gomera, so we read that “thousands were evacuated from theCanary Islands”.
On Tuesday morning, Canarian Weekly informed the Tenerife Cabildo about the damaging coverage inBritain.
In turn, the Cabildo advised us that they were contacting their media agents in theUKto clarify information being broadcast.
Come Wednesday and the Cabildo sent us information to illustrate that their new messages were being broadcast in theUKcorrectly.
Having tamed last month’s fires after a hectic five days,Tenerife’s fire brigade (Bomberos) were forced to start all over again when fire broke out in Rui Gomez, just outside of El Tanque last Friday evening.
Rui Gomez resident, David Watson toldCanarian Weekly, “It started near my house on Friday night, I stayed up all night, the wind was blowing away from the house, at about 6.30am on Saturday it just flared up. There were massive flames and the sky was full of smoke. The village was full of the emergency services, they were brilliant. But they had no water, the tank in Erjos is empty.”
The leading edge of the fire was initially at Erjos, near El Tanque, but then flames extended towards the boundaries of the Los Silos and Buenavista del Norte municipalities.
Temperatures in the zone were between 35-40 degrees, humidity was 15% and wind was gusting at up to 60 kilometres per hour, making the job of extinguishing the blaze so much more difficult.
The fire quickly spread because of the dry conditions and was raised to a level 2 incident on Saturday with various villages, including El Palmar, Masca and Santiago del Teide being evacuated for a short period.
By Monday however the situation was under control, thanks to fire-fighters on the ground, supported by helicopters and sea planes.
But that wasn’t the end of it because on Wednesday three separate fires were reported, albeit small ones, in the mountainous regions of Los Realejos, La Esperanza and La Orotava.
The total area affected was 16 hectares but, fortunately, they were all under control by the end of the day as the heroic firemen pulled out all the stops.
Worryingly, Ana Lupe Mora,Tenerife’s Minister of Environment, suggested that all three fires could have been started deliberately. “All indications are that have been intentional,” she said.
And Manuel Dominguez, Mayor of Los Realejos, agreed, saying: “There is a very accessible track with little distance between the fires.”
With this in mind, The Guardia Civil, together with local police, began inspecting vehicles passing through the area.
Meanwhile, on La Gomera, where the forest fire started on 4th August and then reignited on Saturday, there was devastation and despair as it threatened the population and tore through 750 hectares of the Garajonay National Park, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Crews on the ground and in the air worked flat-out to prevent the fire advancing any further and several areas were evacuated.
Thousands were evacuated for safety reasons from various and some families were believed to have lost their homes in Valle Gran Rey.
The SUC and the Red Cross were yesterday (Thursday) moving disabled people back to their homes in Valle Gran Rey and Vallehermoso.
And Javier Gonzalez Ortiz Minister of Economy, Finance and Security of theCanary Islands, said that the fire had “stabilised favourably”.
Ground crews were cooling down the affected the area by hose, and air support had been dumping water since the morning.
But the nightmare just won’t disappear because weather forecasts for the weekend say another heatwave will arrive in the Canaries on Sunday. And that could spell more trouble!
As for the British media, in a thirty second bulletin they appear to have done their utmost to wreck Tenerife Cabildo’s fantastic efforts this year to rebuild our main industry – the tourist sector – which has been progressing so healthily.
Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=14323