UPDATE: 80-Year-Old Man Arrested For Throwing Stone That Grounded Tenerife Firefighting Helicopter

Image of firefighting helicopters in Tenerife.

Image of firefighting helicopters in Tenerife. Credit: Twitter@112canarias

UPDATE: Tuesday, August 22 at 8:50 pm

AN 80-year-old man has been arrested by the Guardia Civil on suspicion of throwing a stone that resulted in a firefighting helicopter being grounded on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

As announced in a statement this evening, August 22, from the force’s Güímar brigade, the suspect was detained for a crime in the field of Air Navigation.

He allegedly threw a stone that hit the tail rotor of the aircraft belonging to the Forestry Brigade of the Cabildo de Tenerife while it was attempting to replenish its load of water from a tank that the man owned, as reported by 20minutos.es.


UPDATE: Tuesday, August 22 at 4:40 pm

THE Guardia Civil in Tenerife is investigating after an individual allegedly threw a stone at the tail rotor of one of the firefighting helicopters.

At the time of the incident the pilot was said to have been hovering over an agricultural water tank to replenish its supply.

As a result of the stone hitting the rotor, the aircraft has been rendered unusable and joins another one that was previously put out of action after one of its hydraulic system parts failed.

These helicopters belong to Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and are an essential part of the operation to battle the ongoing forest fire in the north of the island.

The president attributed the incident to hoaxes

Rosa Dávila, the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife revealed the news during a press briefing this Tuesday, August 22. She attributed this action to certain hoaxes that have been spreading since the fire took hold suggesting that farmers face losing their crops when their water supplies are used up fighting the fire.

The water being collected from such supplies to fight the fire is being carefully monitored by GPS in order to replace it at a later date. Despite this assurance from the government: ‘some people to do this type of thing for fear of losing their crops’, explained Dávila.

‘It is very important that we can work calmly and without more risk than the media already have in their work’, Dávila stressed.

She emphasised that the only official source of information was the 112 Emergency and Security Coordination Centre, from where the fire assessment meetings and press conferences take place.

Dávila insisted that it is very dangerous to cause unnecessary alarm among the public because ‘then this type of thing occurs’. She confirmed that the Guardia Civil has already acted in relation to the incident with the helicopter.

Manuel Miranda, the Minister of Territorial Policy of the Government of the Canary Islands, reassured the owners of agricultural tanks who see that their supplies to use on crops were diminishing that they will be replaced at the appropriate time.

Approximately 13,019 people have been evicted from properties in 11 municipalities so far.


UPDATE: Sunday, August 20 at 4:20 pm

AROUND 11,600 hectares of land have been destroyed by the huge forest fire that has been raging in the north of Tenerife.

However, residents who had been evacuated from the upper part of Candelaria between the Araya ravines and from Cruz del Camino to the Los Brezos recreational area have now been allowed to return to their homes, as confirmed by Montserrat Román, the head of Civil Protection.

More than 12,000 people have been displaced in total according to the Government of the Canary Islands. It is hoped that the firefighters will be able to stabilise the blaze – which currently has a perimeter of around 84 km – at some point this Sunday, August 20.

Federico Grillo, the director of Emergencies of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, specified today that the fire still has a very large perimeter of approximately 70 km. He hopes that the firefighting teams will be able to consolidate the entire northern area today if all goes well.

Fernando Clavijo, the president of the Canary Islands, confirmed that the fire was started deliberately, with three lines of investigation already opened, as reported by 20minutos.es.

According to a tweet from Tenerife Fire Brigade, the deployment of personnel to tackle this incident has been the biggest in its history.


UPDATE: Saturday, August 19 at 4:15 pm

FIREFIGHTERS in Tenerife are struggling to contain the massive forest fire that has already affected 11 municipalities and destroyed around 5,000 hectares of land in the north of the Canarian island.

The Emergency Department of the INFOCA Plan ordered new evacuations today in the municipalities of La Orotava, La Matanza, La Victoria, El Sauzal, Santa Úrsula and Los Realejos, an action that affects some 26,000 people, as reported by okdiario.com.

Speaking at a press briefing this Saturday, August 19, Javier Martínez, the technical director of the extinction work admitted that the blaze was ‘ out of extinguishing capacity’.

He said that it presented characteristics of a sixth-generation fire and the meteorological and orographic conditions are making it difficult for teams to combat the flames.

The term ‘sixth generation’ fire is normally used to describe a blaze that is very virulent, practically inextinguishable, and causes the priority to be the evacuation of the population.

‘It is very likely that the fire will touch, in its evolution, the slope of Tigaiga. We hope that if the works are effective, it will do so in the upper part of the valley. Very complicated situations are happening for the troops, risk of entrapment, and confinement, as in Aguamansa this morning. They continue to work in a very committed way’, Martínez explained.

The President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, pointed out that the weather conditions had been ‘frankly severe’, and that the fire was burning out of control.

He explained that during the night: ‘reality exceeded expectations. The weather has been really severe with the fire conditions. The winds, the temperatures, and the circumstances were worse than expected’.

There are currently 256 firefighting personnel from Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura fire brigades taking part in the ground operation to extinguish the flames.

Aerially, a total of 19 resources are operating, including a Kamov helicopter that arrived this morning. It is capable of dropping a capacity of 4,500 litres of water on the fire from above.


UPDATE: Friday, August 18 at 5:30 pm

THE forest fire in the Monte de Arafo region of the Canary Island of Tenerife is reported to be still burning out of control this Friday 18.

According to the latest data provided by Lieutenant Colonel José Alberto Gallego López, the head of the II Emergency Intervention Battalion (UME), some 3,797 hectares of land have been destroyed along a 42 km perimeter.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution, with around 3,800 others confined to their homes.

A total of 205 troops from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) are involved in tackling the blaze. They are being assisted aerially by 46 different resources, including three seaplanes from the 43 Group.

The Ministry of the Interior established the Arafo Advanced Command Post to coordinate the firefighting operation. Francisco Ruiz Boada, the General Director of Civil Protection and Emergencies of the Ministry visited today, accompanied by Héctor Gómez, the Acting Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.

As an example of the community spirit displayed during this huge fire, the Cuadras Zamorano in El Rosario has become a safe haven for animals belonging to evacuated homeowners.

Its owner, Miguel Gómez, was thankful when the wind changed direction and prevented the flames from reaching his facility which is located on the border between the municipalities of El Rosario and La Laguna. He very kindly offered to home the pets of those being moved out from the upper part of the town, in El Pennyroyal, as reported by 20minutos.es.

As reported in a press conference today by the president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, a Kamov helicopter with a capacity of 4,500 litres of water is expected to arrive in Tenerife tomorrow to assist in the operation.

A Spanish Air Force A400 aircraft is also transporting 10 containers of fire retardant material and another two of foam that are said to be essential in extinguishing this forest fire.

The Ministry of Defence reported on social media that the aircraft departed from its airbase in Zaragoza this morning with the aforementioned material on board.


Thursday, August 17 at 5:46 pm

A wildfire that broke out on the Canary Island of Tenerife has already devoured some 2,600 hectares (6,400 acres) of land.

Around 258 ground personnel are battling the enormous blaze in the north of the popular holiday destination this Thursday, August 17, assisted aerially by 17 aerial resources, including seaplanes.

It is currently burning out of control and the prognosis is not looking good, according to Fernando Clavijo, the president of the Canary Islands while conducting a press briefing in Santa Cruz.

He told the media this morning: ‘It’s been a very difficult night, this is probably the most complex fire we’ve ever had in the Canary Islands in at least the past 40 years. The extreme heat and weather conditions are making the work harder’.

The fire broke out in the Arafo mountains

The fire started in the Arafo mountains last night, Wednesday 16, and already has a perimeter of 31 km (approx 30 miles). It is said to be spreading through areas that are inaccessible to both air and ground means.

As a result, approximately 7,600 people have been either evacuated or confined to their homes in the last 34 hours. They included residents of 10 small villages and hamlets in the area.

This figure grew after the decision was made this morning to confine the urban area of ​​La Esperanza, in the municipality of El Rosario, where a youth camp is located. It is also only about 5 m from Tenerife North Airport, although the facility reportedly continues to operate as normal.

UME troops have been deployed to help fight the blaze

Firefighters from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) have been deployed to assist with combatting the blaze. Clavijo explained: ‘A new detachment of UME troops will arrive during the afternoon’.

Tenerife’s tourist board was quick to highlight that the blaze is far from the island’s main accommodation, beaches, and other places normally used by visitors to the island. Activity in ports, airports and roads in Tenerife is also continuing as normal they stressed.

Several roads that access the mountains where the fire broke out in the northeastern part of the island have been cut by the authorities as a precaution. Some public and private activities in the region have also been suspended.

Montserrat Roman, head of the archipelago’s civil protection service said: ‘We ask that the population respect these road closures’.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com