Tenerife man arrested for throwing stones at firefighting helicopter

An 80-year-old man was arrested for throwing stones at a helicopter that was fighting a wildfire. According to a Reuters report, the fire has been burning on the Spanish island of Tenerife for nearly a week.

The stones hit the blades of the helicopter, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing at a nearby football pitch, the mayor’s office of the town of Guimar on the Canary Islands said in a statement.

The rock-thrower is the owner of a reservoir from which the helicopter was retrieving water to drop on the fire, police said.

“We have one less helicopter because someone threw a stone and rendered it inoperative, due to the impact on the tail rotor,” said Rosa Davila, head of Tenerife’s local government.

The Canarian Weekly published helicopter video illustrating the fires’ intensity:

Fire on Tenerife island
Video from a helicopter pilot fighting the fire on Tenerife island

The Canary Islands government has requested the assistance of three seaplanes from mainland Spain, which were flying from Malaga to help fight the fires. Officials were concerned that this could become an emergency not seen on the island for more than 16 years, since the fires of 2007.

Local farmers have protested at the use of scarce water resources to fight the fire, but Davila said that all the water used would be replaced.

The fire, which started on August 15, has burned almost 15,000 hectares (about 37,000 acres) of woodland within the national park surrounding the Mount Teide volcano, Spain’s highest peak. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

Editor’s note: Certain members of a California IMT may recall a hostile landowner on a fire in Montana a few years ago, who went ballistic when a helicopter was dripping from his pond. … Anyone know how they might plan to replace that water they are borrowing from farmers’ ponds?

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4 thoughts on “Tenerife man arrested for throwing stones at firefighting helicopter”

  1. At the CTARNG in the ‘80s we owned 10 CH54B Skycranes. Was a Full-Timer Crane Mech / FE. And yes two 1000 Gallon Fiberglass Fire Buckets. One CT. Fire was a learning experience. Have to Google how many Gallons of H2O is in a Large Lake but many complaints from locals stopped our Aerial Fire Fighting Mission that day. Complaint: We were draining Lake.

  2. It’s not uncommon for fire agencies to replace the water used from private sources when necessary or seasonally unlikely to naturally replenish. In the US any surface water is usable for fire initial attack, normally considered first 24 hours. If initial attack is not successful, then more appropriate water sources are determined or use agreements made. Normally water tenders will be used to replace the water used. In the US anyway.

    1. This is an island. Whether the farmer pond is seawater or fresh we do not know.
      Tenerife is that little westernmost island there. Tenerife map.


      From the Wikipedia link: Tenerife was the site of the deadliest accident ever in commercial aviation. The “Tenerife airport disaster” occurred on 27 March 1977, at Los Rodeos airport in the north of the island, when two Boeing 747s collided on the runway in heavy fog conditions, causing the deaths of 583 passengers and crew. A few years later, a Dan Air Flight 1008 from the UK was approaching the same airport, but it crashed into nearby hills, killing hundreds of people. The plane was travelling too close to an Iberia Air turboprop plane and was asked to go into a holding pattern.

    2. Not necessarily true. There are natural “Waters of the State”. But water that been obtained by a water right and pumped or held in storage is not usable unless the owner agrees. It is owned by the water right holder. USFS does replace or remunerate owners and is very good about this. Some State agencies? Not so much, every state has its own policy. However, helicopters tend to fly the shortest distance to a water source, so if they are dipping out of yours, it usually means there is a fire nearby.

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