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Tenerife - 18 August 2023 - Banner - Wildfires.jpg
Tenerife - Aug 18 2023 - Thumb - Wildfires.jpg
World News

Vicar evacuated from Tenerife wildfires thanks Premier listeners for their prayers

by Premier Journalist

More than 12-thousand people have been evacuated in Tenerife, as officials say wildfires there may have been started deliberately.  It's believed over 29-thousand acres of land have been destroyed on the Spanish island.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, the body of a Greek shepherd was found inside an evacuation area. He's thought to have died from smoke inhalation while trying to save his flock.

Meanwhile, in Tenerife, firefighters face challenging conditions because of the inaccessible terrain.

Rev Rachel Ganney, who leads a historic Anglican congregation on the island, was evacuated with her husband and pets over the weekend. She spoke to Premier on Monday, just after being allowed back into her home, and described the extent of the damage: "Just from our house, we can see large scars of black, where it was used to be trees, which is very sad. There's been some property in terms of farmland damaged, but certainly last I saw no homes have been damaged at all, and no lives lost, which is obviously the number one priority."

She said news from the authorities that the fires may have deliberately started has been hard for the community to process: "They were saying it was a human source all the while, and now they're saying 'deliberate human action'. So it's going to be a challenge, I think for people."

She added: "There is a lot of anger... it was started I've heard in six to 12 places all at the same time... that does look very suspicious."

And while her role as a vicar means she will be teaching people about forgiveness, she admitted that's not going to be her top priority: "I think that now is the time to come together, pray together, support each other.

"[We will] look towards lessons learnt, which will include forgiveness absolutely, as part of that, when we're over the immediate crisis.  But telling people that they need to forgive someone when they don't know if they've got home to go to, is maybe not the time. It's a trauma, like any kind of crime. It takes a bit of time to get there."

She said God has answered the prayers of her family back in the UK, who seemed to have more faith than she did: "Some of my family had been praying for rain - who maybe don't know how rare rain in August is here - but actually, we've had rain. Not a lot, but every little bit helps."

Rev Ganney asked for continuing prayer for the weather, and noted that the biggest challenge for firefighters is the unpredictability of the winds: "The wind in Tenerife changes direction at very, very short notice, which makes it very difficult to predict what's happening with the fire. They basically just have to watch it, which is very difficult."

She also thanked the Premier listeners for their support: "Thank you very much for those of you that are praying for us and those that have been in touch. We really do appreciate it."

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