Over 500 hectares burnt as forest fire rages for second day in Turkey’s İzmir
İZMİRA forest fire that broke out on July 1 in the Menderes district of the Aegean province of İzmir has raged for a second day, with authorities struggling to get the flames under control amid shifting winds. Over 500 hectares of forest land have been damaged, according to the head of the forestry general directorate İsmail Üzmez.
A fire broke out around the Deli Ömerli neighborhood junction at 12:55 p.m. on July 1, amid 19-percent humidity and hot weather above the seasonal norm, Üzmez told reporters on July 2.
“Our teams intervened in the fire within 10 minutes, but it spread as the wind was blowing 45 kilometers per hour and we could not get the fire under control. When we felt the fire had spread, we dispatched all of the country’s forces to the site, including air vehicles, planes and helicopters,” he added.
Nine helicopters, four planes and 128 firefighters have been working to extinguish the fire along with a total of 2,000 firefighting staff.
“The fact that the wind is occasionally shifting is what gives us problems because you’re taking all kinds of measures while the wind is shifting somewhere else. It is not like a city fire; it is more unstable,” Üzmez said.
Despite difficulties, the extinguishing process was slightly better on July 2 compared to the previous day, he noted.
“The extinguishing works are making progress because the weather conditions are not as bad as yesterday. I think over 500 hectares of land have been damaged overall,” Üzmez said.
He also urged citizens not to light fires for at least two weeks until weather conditions are forecast to return to seasonal norms.
Meanwhile, a firefighting helicopter crashed into the nearby Tahtalı Dam during water filling works early on July 2.
All five people aboard were rescued by swimming and later transferred to hospitals, where they were reported to be in a stable condition.
Üzmez said he was initially briefed about a spark on the helicopter’s rotating components and ultimate power loss, noting that the real cause of the accident would be determined soon.
Separately, another forest fire in the southern province of Mersin, which erupted late on July 1, has been brought partly under control, a local forestry official stated.
On July 2, the Mersin forestry regional director, Mahmut Yılmaz, said firefighting efforts were continuing to put out the fire that broke out in the Asmaca region of the Anamur district.
Yılmaz said 150 hectares of forest land were burnt, according to the initial inspections.
Five helicopters, 46 sprinklers, 20 water trucks, four dozers, five graders, three excavators and 200 firefighting personnel were working to extinguish the fire, he added.
Another fire that broke out in the Aegean resort of Bodrum was brought under control late on July 1.
The fire that broke out in a solid waste landfill site in the district had spread to the forest due to strong winds.
Firefighting helicopters and extinguishing planes intervened in the fire and subsequently brought it under control. The authorities later began cooling work on the site, but around five hectares of forest land were damaged in the fire.
Meanwhile, a fire that erupted at an ink factory in the Çerkezköy district of the western province of Tekirdağ early on July 2 was extinguished after a three-hour struggle.
A total of 30 firefighter teams cooled off the flames, as millions of liras damage was reported at the 39-year-old factory that burnt to ashes.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, and an investigation has been opened.