First official statement hints at arson in massive forest fire on Mediterranean

First official statement hints at arson in massive forest fire on Mediterranean

First official statement hints at arson in massive forest fire on Mediterranean

DHA Photo

Two people on a motorcycle were seen leaving Adrasan Bay on the Mediterranean shortly before a huge fire erupted, destroying 125 hectares of forests, Kumluca Mayor Hüsamettin Çetinkaya said, suggesting that the pair could have engaged in arson.

“I directly talked to our personnel who were guarding the area and the team that made the first intervention [against the fire]. Our friends said there was no possibility that picnickers could have caused the fire,” Çetinkaya told daily Hürriyet. “The locals saw two people on a motorcycle who rapidly left the area shortly before the fire started.”

The investigation should focus on the information pointing at the two people, Çetinkaya said.

Forestry General Director İbrahim Üzen originally said the fire was most likely ignited by embers from picnickers’ barbecues.  However, locals claimed that the fire erupted due to pieces of glass in garbage thrown into the forest, which could magnify and start fires on dry wood. Many have slammed the indifference of the authorities to a number of local businesses allegedly responsible for the practice.

The owner of the one of the local establishments, Salih Uğur, said he did not see any picnickers when he first came the area devoured by the fire.
“The fire might have erupted due to the pieces of glass. You can see that here is like a dump,” Uğur said, adding that municipality officials also deposited garbage in the area.

Located inside an archaeological site and next to a national park, Adrasan is one of the few sites on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast that has escaped the construction boom that has blighted nearby sandy beaches.

Çetinkaya also touched on the concerns that tourism facilities would be built in the area destroyed by the fire, dismissing any possibility of construction.

“The locals of Kumluca and Adrasan should feel comfortable. We will never allow something like this. That area will be cleaned and reseeded by the relevant institution. The area will be covered by green patterns in one or two years. We will follow through on this work,” he said.

Authorities are also planning new structures in the area, Çetinkaya said. Four hotels and a restaurant in the area were destroyed in the fire.