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Tens of thousands flee as wildfires rage in Tenerife and Canada

Emergency crews and firefighters are working to extinguish the fire advancing through the forest in La Orotava in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023
Emergency crews and firefighters are working to extinguish the fire advancing through the forest in La Orotava in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023 Copyright Arturo Rodriguez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Arturo Rodriguez/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews
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Tens of thousands forced to flee as wildfires continue to rage on the Spanish island of Tenerife and in Canada's North West Territories

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Officials say around 26,000 people are being moved to safety in Tenerife. 

Strong winds and higher temperatures have helped to spread the flames of a huge forest fire while the difficult terrain and billowing smoke are hampering efforts to control it.

 On Saturday Firefighters said there were still three active areas of the fire.

"But now we know exactly the areas where we have to attack the fire and those where we need to build protections," Fernando Grande Marlaska, acting Minister of the Interior, told reporters. 

No injuries have been reported since the fire broke out late on Tuesday.

Some 265 firefighters battled the blaze with the help of 19 aircraft, which included units from the mainland sent to help. More reinforcements are on the way, the central government said.

The fire is located in a steep and craggy mountain area with pine trees, with several municipalities on its flanks. Access for firefighters is extremely difficult.

The Canary Islands have been in drought for most of the past few years, just like most of mainland Spain. The islands have recorded below-average rainfall in recent years because of changing weather patterns impacted by climate change.

European Union officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017.

Thousands flee the flames in Canada

In Canada, at least 19,000 people have been evacuated from the city of Yellowknife according to officials in the Northwest Territories. That figure amounts to the entire population.

They said 15,000 people fled by road, 3,800 were evacuated by air while at least 300 firefighters were mobilised to fight the flames.

Firefighters are battling to control more than 200 blazes that have forced thousands more to retreat to evacuation centres throughout Alberta as far south as Calgary.

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