Türkiye accelerates efforts against wildfires
Türkiye has accelerated efforts to put out the wildfires in the southwestern provinces of Muğla’s Marmaris district with a full-scale campaign, with nearly 3,000 personnel accompanied by 600 vehicles on land and around 60 aircraft, including helicopters from the military inventory, in the air.
“We expect to have positive developments,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişçi said.
The fires broke out late on June 21 in three locations in the Börtübed neighborhood, with the officials intervening immediately. Firefighters encircled the wildfires on June 22, and early on June 23, the “total fight against the fires” began with the decrease in the wind speed.
“For security reasons, we evacuated some 274 citizens around,” Kirişçi said. “The fight continues with 12 aircraft and 45 helicopters,” he added.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who is at the scene with Kirişçi from the beginning, said the support from land continued all night.
As of June 23, the Turkish Air Force joined the extinguishing efforts by sending an S-70, an AS-532, and a CH-47 type helicopters.
“The military’s Chinook helicopters that can drop 7 to 10 tons of water are at service. This is a first,” Soylu said.
Later on June 22, the possibility of an arson became the main agenda of the country as officials found the start of the fires in three locations “suspicious.”
When asked about the sabotage allegations, Soylu replied that a “suspect,” a “saboteur” was detected.
“We have meetings with the police and gendarmerie. All have determinations. We will make an official announcement later,” he said, but added, “We have been detecting how the fires broke out and [identified] an ID.”
Kirişçi highlighted that the good news is near and that after the cooling of the soil, it will be reforested.
The General Directorate of Forestry agreed with the minister and posted a message on Twitter.
Informing the public, the directorate said the second day’s works were focused on “extinguishing and cooling trees burned from inside, which can cause new fire threats.”
A series of more than 200 wildfires reduced 1,700 square kilometers in Türkiye’s Mediterranean region to ash in the summer of 2021, killing nine people, including two firefighters.
In the worst-ever wildfire season, the fires started in the southern province of Antalya’s Manavgat district on July 28, 2021, and ended on Aug. 9, 2021, in Muğla.
The absence of sufficient firefighting aircraft was a hot topic in the country in 2021.
“On the first day [June 21], we had 41 air vehicles [in the fight against wildfires]. Today [June 23], the number is 57. Also, we did not ask for international help,” Kirişçi said, replying to criticisms on social media.”