16/07/2012

FUEGO!

Fuego means fire, but the word is also used to mean fuegos artificiales - fireworks.
Last weekend was a big fiesta weekend here in Tenerife, to celebrate the Fiesta del Carmen, and there were dozens of beautiful firework demonstrations all over the island.
Las Galletas, our nearest coastal village, was packed to bursting with cars and camper-vans. Tents were erected on the outskirts, the beach was full, the life-guard was on his perch and the sea heaved with bathers.
We have been to the firework display several times - to sit on the beach and experience it close-up is amazing. Yesterday I merely saw them from afar and heard the thud-thud of the huge bangers, and waited like a local for Las Tres Palmeras - three fireworks that resemble Three Palm-trees - which signified the end of the show.

Meanwhile in the mountains, what we have been dreading for the past year has finally happened - a forest fire. We have had no significant rain for a whole year and everything is tinder-dry. Fire could have burst out by itself, but the usual explanation for such disasters is human. Sometimes it is a dropped cigarette-end - it is illegal to throw one out of ones car window here, and quite right too. Sometimes an irresponsible farmer will let a bonfire get out of control, or sparks from a barbecue will fly further than expected. But often it is arson. Acres and acres of trees burn because some stupid idiot wants to watch the fire, or has a grudge against society. People's homes and livelihoods are destroyed, lives are lost. 
The bomberos do their best, but much of the forest in Tenerife is inaccessible to vehicles. Pines packed with explosive resin cling to precipitous slopes. The layer of pine needles is metres thick since the peasants no longer gather it. The roads are bad enough without thick smoke obscuring the bends.
The firemen climb up the slopes in danger of their lives, dragging their hoses - helicopters drop buckets of seawater - trees are felled to create fire-breaks. Eventually they always put out the fire, but at tremendous cost, as the remote village of Masca learned a few years ago. 
Wish them and the residents of Tenerife the best of luck - we need it! This link is to the local newspaper.
http://www.diariodeavisos.com/

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