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article imageWildfires hit Canary islands

By Amanda Payne     Jul 17, 2012 in World
It's the height of the tourist season and the Canary Islands have suffered another blow. This time its wildfires that have broken out on Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera.
Thanks to the driest winter for years and very hot summer temperatures, fires have started on the islands with the most dangerous on Tenerife which is threatening the UNESCO world heritage site of the Teide National Park which surrounds the majestic Teide volcano in the centre of Tenerife. According to Euronews, the cause of the fires is suspected to be arsonists.
Fox News reports on July 17 that 200 people have had to be evacuated from their homes as the fires spread out of control. The fires have been burning since Sunday but high winds and the mountainous terrain have made fighting them very difficult.
The Expatica website says that around 800 firefighters, helped by planes and helicopters are fighting the blazes with more arriving from the Spanish mainland. The site reports that all roads into the Teide National Park have been closed. Around 150 people have had to be evacuated from their homes on the island of La Palma where around 500 hectares have so far been burnt.
Fires are a yearly hazard in Spain and fire fighting teams are well prepared to go into action instantly. The problem with the islands is access, with each island being based around at least one volcano, with ravines, tight curving roads and high winds making things very difficult. The main tourist areas tend to be clustered along the coastline and at this time, none are in any danger. The airports are continuing to function as normal.
The Teide national park is a popular tourist destination. The scenery around the base of the volcanic cone is like something you would see on Mars and in fact has been used as a testing area by scientists studying the red planet. There is a cable car that takes tourists to the top. The last eruption was in 1909 and some scientists believe that another eruption is already overdue.
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