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Tenerife wildfires July 2023.JPG
World News

Church service goes ahead in Tenerife amid heatwave and forest fires

by Premier Journalist

An Anglican priest on the island of Tenerife made the tough decision that her church service would go ahead, despite record temperatures and a forest fire which threatened her own home.

Rev Rachel Ganney is the priest at All Saints' Church in North Tenerife and also ministers to churchgoers on other Canary Islands including La Palma, where 4,000 people have been evacuated, as a wildfire rages “out of control”.

Europe is struggling to cope with the heatwave, as forecasters predict further record highs to come.  Rev Ganney tells Premier temperatures have been unusually elevated already: "Last week we topped 40C. So it's been very, very hot and unfortunately also very dry."

The combination of heat and no humidity has led to forest fires on the island, which firefighters have battled to control.

"On Saturday night there was a fire maybe a kilomentre away - just across the valley from us." Rev Ganney told Premier.

"It was at that point when I wondered whether on Sunday morning I'd go to church alone and leave my husband at home in case we had to evacuate the animals and things like that."

Currently, services at All Saints' are being held in the open-air because maintenance work is being carried out on the building.  It means they're reading the forecast and watching the skies more carefully than usual, but Rev Ganney says after she'd made the decision to hold the service on Sunday morning, amazingly the weather started to change for the 'better' just as the congregation was gathering.

"It was quite remarkable.  I was just welcoming people and introducting the service when some cloud came over and the temperature dropped by a few degrees.

She doesn't know if it was Divine intervention, but it was certainly a welcome break from the searing heat, "I'm not sure we'll get that every week. But we were very grateful for it yesterday.

All Saints church is the oldest Anglican church in Spain - the first service was held there in 1891.  Rev Ganney paid tribute to the men and women firefighters on Tenerife and the other Islands, who are fighting to save buildings as well as lives across the Canaries, telling Premier: "The fire services are amazing. The work they do is absolutely incredible. So pray for them."

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