Turkey, wildfires

Only two active wildfires remain in Turkey

The worst wildfires wave in Turkey’s modern history leaves 8 dead and thousands of hectares of forest razed.

Only two active wildfires remain in Turkey, both in the Aegean province of Muğla, after 238 of the 240 fires declared over the last 13 days in the country have been extinguished, Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forests Bekir Pakdemirli said.

Pakdemirli announced late yesterday on Twitter that fires were still burning in the Köyceğiz, Kavaklıdere, Milas, Yatağan and Karaköy districts of Muğla; however, when presenting the latest data this morning, he confirmed that only the Köyceğiz and Milas fires were still active in Muğla, against which more than 5,000 firefighters have been deployed supported by 15 planes and helicopters – including two planes sent by Spain – and hundreds of fire fighting trucks.

The first major fires in Turkey broke out on July 28 in the south of the country, but they soon spread to other neighbouring regions driven by strong winds and an intense heat wave that has also caused devastating fires in Greece; however, although negligence or the illegal burning of stubble – the authorities have multiplied the fines for this concept by 5 these days – are behind many fires, several people have been arrested on suspicion of having caused them intentionally.

The provinces of the Mediterranean and Aegean coast, highly touristy areas in summer, have been the most affected by what the Turkish president has described as the worst wave of wildfires in Turkey’s modern history, threatening residential areas and tourist resorts and forcing to evacuate thousands of people.

Rain brings relief to fire-ravaged areas

Eight people have died from the flames, most of them in Manavgat, a district of Antalya province that was where the first major fire was declared and has been one of the most affected, and where the flames of the wildfires reached even the city centre. On Saturday, after rain started to fall in the area, many people cried with joy in Manavgat and even prayed thanking God for the arrival of the long-awaited rain.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, a native of Antalya and one of the first to travel to the areas affected by the fire, declared on Monday that fires in his home province have damaged 3,231 buildings, many of which will have to be demolished. Çavuşoğlu assured that the state will build new houses for the victims and provide aid to repair buildings that have suffered minor damage.

By now the Turkish government has already distributed approximately €1.7 million in emergency aid to people affected by the forest fires in Turkey. The fire has devastated thousands of hectares of forests, but Turkish President Erdoğan has reiterated that not a single building will be allowed to be built in the burned areas, and plans have already been announced to repopulate the affected areas and plant 252 million trees throughout the country by the end of the year.