Arico fire is under control and reduced to level 1 under Cabildo control now to extinguish it completely

Photo: Tenerife President Pedro Martín

Updated 24 May: Conditions were favvourable and firefighting effforts were optimistic that the Arico fire could be brought under control today, and so it has been announced in the last hour. The army emergency unit and the help that came over from Gran Canaria went last night, and this lunchtime the fire has been brought down to a level 1, restoring control over the last stage of extinguishing it to the Cabildo. 

Updated 23 May: The Arico fire has been contained but continues out of control within its perimeter. It has been prevented from passing the Barranco del Rio into Granadilla municipio, and the focus points in the national park have been put out but the winds have complicated firefighting efforts and reactivated some. Weather conditions are improving, however, with temperatures reducing and humidity increasing, and so although the fire remains at level 2 and therefore under the control of the Canarian Government, hopes are high that there will be considerable improvement by nightfall. The fire has a boundary of some 42km and has consumed around 7,500 acres, and the zone will remain closed to the public for some weeks for maximum safety. The public is again requested to keep roads in the area clear for firefighting resources. 

Updated 22 May: The army’s military emergency unit has been involved in the firefighting efforts and has given us these thermal camera video images from last night where ground crew were dealilng with winds gusting to at least 50km/h in nnight-time temperatures of 22º with humidity down to 20% or so. Conditions meant that several focal points had reactivated after initially being quenched, and this morning the fire is said to have consumed some 7,000 acres. Meanwhile, the authorities have denounced members of the public risking their own safety as well as that of security workers for hampering their work for the sake of a photo op or simply curiosity. They repeat the official requirement to keep away from the area while the fire remains out of control.

Updated 3pm, 21/5: For security reasons, the Cabildo has closed off access for pedestrians and all vehicular traffic to the forested areas of Fasnia, Arico, Granadilla and Vilaflor as this fire continues to rage. Two further sea planes are expected to join the fight in coming hours. The ban on access is expected to last while the fire remains out of control and obviously applies to camping and recreation/BBQ areas too.

Updated 1pm, 21/5: Over 250 ground crew and 7 air resources are currently fighting the Arico fire which now covers some 3,500 acres with a boundary of around 16km (see the graphic below). One flank in particular is causing concern because it could be heading for another barranco. Elsewhere, firefighters watch in impotence as it rises towards the National Park in an area impossible for humans to access. For the moment, no roads are closed but the public is asked to avoid the area so as not to interfere with firefighting efforts. The authorities say that thankfully at present the corona forestal isn’t alight and so while there’s much smoke, it’s a ground fire. For the moment. The weather forecast is for NE winds averging 10–30 km/h gusting to 60km/h, and it is that wind that’s their greatest enemy right now since it is anticipated to increase later today and tonight. Together with relative humidity far under the danger point of 30% and temperatures rising to near their own danger point of 30ºC, these are uncomfortable hours for firefighters. Those living in the area affected by the smoke are advised to keep doors and windows closed if they feel any respiratory effects.

Updated 21 May: Canarian President Ángel Torres has attended the front line of the firefighting efforts this morning as the skies of west Tenerife darken with smoke from the blaze in the east. The photo to the left shows the skies above the Guía de Isora hills as efforts continue today to stop it rising any further into the National Park.

Updated 9pm, 20/5: As conditions have worsened and night is falling, the Canarian Government has declared the Arico barranco fire a Level 2 so as to coordinate resources overnight. The fire has now burnt nearly 1,000 acres as fighting teams gear up for a hard night.   

Updated 6pm, 20/5: Over 100 are now firefighting in the Arico barranco where a strong north-westerly wind and heat are making their labours very difficult. Four helicopters and a water plane are involved as well as several bomberos units including professionals from San Miguel and Santa Cruz along with voluntees from Guía de Isora. Thanks to that wind, some parts of Tenerife are getting the wind blown directly over them, it’s happening to my own garden where ash is falling … and the last time that happened was the appalling 2012 Ifonche fire which directly affected us..  

Updated 4pm, 20/5: The Cabildo has issued the following short video from one of the air resources involved in the firefighting efforts this afternoon in the Arico barranco where the blaze continues out of control as the Canarian Government declares a Level 1 forest fire alert so as to help coordinate resources and the firefighting response.

Photo: Bomberos de Tenerife.

Original post 20 May: A forest fire which broke out just before lunchtime in the barranco de Chajana in Arico municipio is taking hold and spreading to the west and the national park, the Cabildo says. Ground teams and air support have been in operation throughout the afternoon, and the Cabildo has asked the public to avoid any forested areas between Arico and Vilaflor while firefighting efforts continue. There is such a huge quantity of white smoke that it is visible from the west of the island, a natural effect of the calima that is hampering the work because it is very warm right now and, worst of all, windy in parts … in the east and at altitude which is the last place they’re wanted at present. Thankfully at the moment we are not at the three 30s (see HERE) but we’re not too far away from them with the Canarian Government confirming that apart from the 25ºC temperature, both other factors are already there with winds of 30 km/h and relative humidity at an awful 13%.