Fires nearly end thanks to rains, massive efforts
ANKARA / ANTALYA
Ravaged by wildfires since July 28, Turkey has contained most of the 223 wildfires that took 47 provinces in its grip with only six wildfires remaining, Turkey’s agriculture and forestry minister said on Aug. 7 as precipitation at the weekend helped end the wildfires in the southern province of Antalya.
Most of the fires have been contained thanks to the dedicated efforts of Turkish firefighting teams, while the blazes in Köyceğiz, Kavaklıdere, Milas, Yatağan and Çine in the southwestern Muğla province continue, as well as one in the town of Sütçüler in Isparta, Bekir Pakdemirli told reporters.
Firefighting teams are working hard to protect a thermal power plant and touristic areas in Muğla, where as many as 15 forest fires initially broke out, he added.
The fires in Milas are currently “dormant, not posing any significant threat,” he said.
“We have been combatting the fires with 16 aircraft, nine unmanned aerial vehicles, 57 helicopters, an unmanned helicopter, 850 water tenders and tankers, and 150 engineering vehicles, along with 5,250 forestry personnel,” Pakdemirli added.
On Twitter, he said the wildfires in Muğla’s Marmaris, Seydikemer and Yılanlı districts have been contained, along with those in Karacasu and Bozdoğan in the Aydın province, and Gölhisar in the Burdur province.
Another wildfire near the central Black Sea province of Karabük was also contained, Pakdemirli added.
Locals in the southern province of Antalya were full of happiness after precipitation began late Aug. 6 and early Aug. 7 in the Manvgat and İbradı districts.
As the rainfalls helped the wildfires extinguish, some people in Manavgat kneeled down on their knees and started praying, thanking God for the precipitation on the main roads. Rains, which lasted 20 minutes, helped put out the forest fire in the Ormana neşghborhood of İbradı and the Kalemler neighborhood of Manavgat.
“We jumped into the river to run away from the blazes. We felt death for two hours,” Serkan Güngör, a local whose lands were reduced to ashes, told how happy he was due to the rain.
The wildfires that were ongoing for six days in the Sütçüler district of the Mediterranean province of Isparta also ended after rainfalls.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu visited the areas affected by the blazes. Later they held a closed-door meeting with representatives of fire-hit regions to hear about their needs.
A firefighting team from Azerbaijan, including 40 fire trucks and 150 personnel, has also been dispatched to Hamza in the Black Sea Samsun province.
At least 107 houses were damaged in blazes in Alanya in the southern Antalya province, Mayor Adem Murat Yücel said in a statement.
Bekir Yılmaz, the district governor of Bodrum in the southwestern province of Muğla, said that initial aid of some 35,000 Turkish Liras (over $4,000) per household was provided to citizens affected by fires.
According to official figures, at least eight people have been killed since fires started in southern and southwestern Turkey on July 28.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted late Aug. 6 that 18 amphibious jets, 57 helicopters, 5,250 personnel, nine unmanned aerial vehicles and 150 earthmovers have been used in extinguishing the fires.
He also noted that with the contributions of the private sector and non-governmental organizations, four planes and one helicopter supplied from abroad would also participate.