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Tenerife Fire News from Masca

A later image showing the burnt trunks on the palm trees in the Masca valley

Masca, they tell us, is the second most visited place in Tenerife, after the Teide National Park and that the tiny village - home to just 140 people - sees something in the region of 800,000 visitors per year. Being familiar to so many, it's no surprise then that over the last few days, I've received lots of emails asking about the fire, among them questions about Masca and, in particular, one asks, "Please tell me how bad Masca is after the fire."

Visitors aren't the only people asking. Local postal services yesterday wanted to know if they are able to get over to Masca as the roads had been closed for a few days. Whom do they ask: the security forces, the town hall? Nope, that ever reliable source of local knowledge (apparently), me! :)

An article in La Opinión (La sabiduría de un pueblo en Masca) praised the wisdom of the people of Masca, who when they saw the fire coming over the Cumbres del Bolico (Bolico Peaks), left everything and got the hell out of there before they might have become trapped by the flames. 

Smoke had got down into the Masca valley by afternoon, says the article (this must have been the afternoon of Tuesday, July 31st); the wind was blowing and gusting strongly (up to 70 kmph), while the fire was "doing its own thing" in Santiago del Teide and had started to climb upwards on the south face of the mountains from Erjos. At 04:45 the mayor rang someone in Masca to say that things were going to get "complicated," which is when the inhabitants began to leave before the valley became a death trap.

The problem with the wind, we're told, is that turbulence meant that helicopters couldn't be used, so tight within the valley walls around it. The palm trees acted like torches and, as the fronds burnt and broke off, so the gusts of wind took them where they will, catching anything dry and flammable alight and causing various fires all around the valley. However, that same haphazard pattern also meant that the majority of the houses in Masca were saved. Those homes that did burn - they list 6 homes destroyed, among whose owners is the Collins family - burnt completely, while other houses, right next door didn't burn at all.

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