A RAGING wildfire erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma today – sparking a mass evacuation of terrified residents.
The fire broke out shortly after 1am in Punta Gorda – a wooded area in the north of the popular island in the Canaries.
Shocking pictures show the wildfire ripping through the forest on the island of La PalmaReuters
EPASmoke billows from a forest fire in Punta Gorda, La Palma[/caption]
EPAFlames filled the sky after the wildfire broke out in a wooded area[/caption]
EPAThe local government has issued an emergency alert as firefighters battle the flames[/caption]
The Canary Islands Government has issued a Level 2 emergency alert as firefighters battle the raging inferno.
Shocking footage showed smoke billowing from a forested area on a hillside, spreading towards homes and vehicles.
At least 11 houses have been destroyed by the flames so far, Fernando Clavijo, president of the Canary Islands said.
“The number of people who need to be evacuated could reach 1,000,” Clavijo told reporters.
“It depends on whether we can bring these strong winds under control.”
Some 346 acres of land have been destroyed, he added.
Four choppers and four firefighting units are on the ground racing to bring the fire under control on the island.
Emergency services are now seeking help from nearby islands – such as Gomera and Tenerife.
The Red Cross has set up a facility in Tijarafe for those who have been evacuated – and another is being set up in a sports centre in Los Llanos de Aridane.
It comes as Brit holidaymakers have been warned over a “red alert” heatwave on the Canary Islands as temperatures are set to reach 41C.
A map by Spain‘s meteorological agency AEMET shows that sizzling temperatures are set to hit Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Santa Cruz de la Palma.
But the highest will be recorded in Gran Canaria as shown in purple which means the mercury will exceed 40C.
The soaring temperatures led AEMET to activate an orange warning – which was raised to a red warning on Thursday.
Weather experts have declared 2023 an El Niño year – a natural phenomenon that occurs cyclically and causes fluctuations in the global climate.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said it will raise temperatures around the world, and the effect is likely to continue for the rest of the year.
Some 346 acres of land have been destroyed, the Canary Islands president saidReuters