‘Forest commandos’ to take action against wildfires in Turkey
Turkey, which has held the country’s biggest wildfire exercises in four provinces with 5,000 personnel, will fight the wildfires with nearly 500 experts who officials call the “forest commandos” for their advanced training on wildfires.
“The drills in [the southern provinces of] Antalya, Adana, Mersin and [the southwestern province of] Muğla were the biggest of the republic’s history,” said Bekir Karacabey, the head of the General Directorate of Forestry.
Karacabey told Demirören News Agency that the drill was conducted in coordination with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), an institution affiliated with the Interior Ministry.
Turkey witnessed the country’s worst-ever wildfire season in July and August 2021, when some 1,700 square kilometers of forests in the Mediterranean region turned into ashes due to a series of more than two hundred wildfires.
The fires, killing some eight people, started in Antalya’s Manavgat district on July 28, 2021, and the last wildfire was put out in Muğla on Aug. 9, 2021.
Informing the media about the drills, Karacabey noted, “Some 5,000 personnel from 20 cities were brought to these four cities. In drills, wildfires were put out with the help of some 20 fire fighting aircraft, 55 helicopters and eight drones.”
When asked what the directorate has done to prepare for this year’s potential wildfires, Karacabey mentioned the “forest commandos” for the first time.
“Videos of last year’s wildfires were watched over and over again. Some 21,000 forestry personnel have been trained,” he said. “Also, this year, we have some 462 personnel with advanced training on call. We call them ‘forest commandos.’”
The number of the volunteers has skyrocketed, too, Karacabey said.
Last year, there were some 20,000 volunteers to fight against the wildfires. “This year, this number has topped 100,000,” he added.
The drills in Antalya, followed by the city governor, Ersin Yazıcı, were held in some 48 points.
Some 300 personnel with 60 vehicles participated in the exercises held in Adana.
Muğla experienced a successful drill with around 1,720 personnel, 307 vehicles, three helicopters and a drone. Firefighters put out two fires lit under control during the drill in a short time. In another drill, some five injured personnel were rescued from a helicopter crash.