Marmaris wildfires, ‘probably by sabotage, largely under control’
The first wildfire of this summer started late on June 21 in the southwestern province of Muğla’s Marmaris district, with the officials declaring on June 22 that the fires were largely under control and “sabotage” is the most probable cause.
According to local officials, wildfires started at around 8 p.m. on June 21 in three different locations in the Börtübet neighborhood.
The flames spread in short time due to the winds and firefighters spent all night intervening in the fires on land.
With the sunrise, the aerial struggle against the fires with 20 helicopters and 14 aircraft began early on June 22.
The Presidency of the Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) said some 1,393 personnel, including 592 from the General Directorate of Forestry, as well as 338 vehicles and 35 pieces of construction equipment from various institutions and organizations were assigned to the fire.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inspected the scene on June 22. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişci and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also arrived at the scene.
As of 11 a.m. on June 22, Kirişçi announced that the forest where the wildfires started was encircled and the fires were “largely under control.”
Between 300 and 400 hectares of Calabrian pine forests have been burnt, the prosecutor’s Office in Muğla announced, adding that an official investigation has been started.
The wildfires’ started at three locations at the same time indicated the possibility of “sabotage.”
Prominent meteorologist Orhan Şen also highlighted the probability of sabotage, saying, “This is a human based wildfire.”
“The moisture in the region is not at a critical level. Not at a level to start a fire,” he said and added: “I am confident that it is a human based one.”
A series of more than 200 wildfires burnt 1,700 square kilometers in Turkey’s Mediterranean region in the summer of 2021, killing 9 people, including two firefighters.
In a 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.
“In the 2021 wildfires, the rate of moisture dropped to levels as low as 10 percent,” Şen said and continued: “We do not have such a situation here. But of course, the security units will find out.”
Soylu, who was in Marmaris, slammed the social media users for criticisms of the fight against wildfires.
The absence of sufficient firefighting aircraft was a hot topic in the country in 2021, but the minister strongly underlined that the firefighters were giving a tough fight.
“There is a social media evil. A remorseless crew. I don’t know what these people enjoy [by criticizing],” the minister said and added: “People did not sleep here, fighting the wildfires,”
Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), posted a tweet early on June 22, highlighting that the first interference to the fires were within minutes after they broke out.
“Thanks is given to the crews intervening on land and by air,” he said. “They deserve all kinds of appreciation for their efforts.”
In 2021 wildfires, some 14 countries lent a hand to Türkiye by sending firefighting aircraft to extinguish the deadly fires.