2020/08/22 08:19:55 Written by Canarian Weekly Tenerife

A level 2 forest fire has been declared in La Palma, which started on Friday evening in the Catela area, in the municipality of Garafía.

It has put the island on alert, with all resources being activated to control it, plus teams from other parts of the archipelago, including the UME who arrived on the island at 1am this morning.

There are three nuclei of the fire that remain active and out of control: one, in the direction of the area known as El Castillo; another heading to Llano Negro, while the larger one is moving towards the Briesta ravine. The last one is most worrying for emergency services due to the difficulty of access to it, and residents of Catela and Colmenero have already been evacuated.

It is planned that, throughout today, an Advanced Command Post will be set up at the Puntagorda sports centre to coordinate actions and resources, as being a level 2 fire means that coordination falls on the regional Executive, and will bring more resources to the island.

Last night shortly after 6.30pm, when the first fire warning was given, two helicopters from Brif, one from La Palma and the other from La Gomera, scanned the area to see the scale of the fire, and roadblocks in counties 2, 3 and 4 of the Cabildo Environment Service were set up, and five fire engines, firefighters, Eirif, Cecopin, Red Cross, Guardia Civil, Civil Protection, and Local Police from different municipalities, were all activated on emergency status.

A further 61 soldiers, eight fire trucks and two mother vehicles from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) arrived at 1am on the Bencomo Express, the Fred Olsen ferry which in the middle of its route to La Gomera, returned to the port in Los Cristianos to load the UME crews and speed up their deployment to La Palma.

At time of going to press the fires are still not under control, and an emergency meeting is taking place at the Advanced Command Post at the Puntagorda sports centre, where an action plan is being drawn up.