Wildfires burn for an eighth day in coastal Turkey

Wildfires burn for an eighth day in coastal Turkey
People stand in front of Kemerkoy thermal power plant with the blaze approaching in the background, in Milas, Mugla, Turkey (Emre Tazegul/AP)

Wildfires were burning for an eighth day in Turkey’s Mediterranean region on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of at least one more neighbourhood.

Scorching heat, low humidity and strong winds have fed the fires, which so far have killed eight people and countless animals and destroyed forests. Villagers have had to evacuate their homes and livestock, while tourists have fled in boats and cars.

Observers worry that fires in the seaside province of Mugla could jump to two thermal power plants.

Flames came within a kilometre of the Kemerkoy thermal power in the district of Milas late on Tuesday before the wind changed direction, helping avert a crisis there for the moment.

Firefighters and police water cannons, usually used during political protests, fought back the flames at night as other rescue officials dug ditches around the plant, according to reporters at the scene.

People stand in front of Kemerkoy thermal power plant, right, as a wildfire approaches in the background (Emre Tazegul/AP)

Milas mayor Muhammet Tokat said on Wednesday that the fire was under partial control and efforts to put out the flames in the thermal plant area continued.

Mr Tokat added that the much needed air support had finally arrived. He said he hoped their assistance would continue throughout the day to bring the fire under full control.

Videos from an adjacent neighbourhood in Milas showed charred, decimated trees while firefighters continued dousing the area with water hoping to prevent another spark from reigniting the fire.

The defence ministry said it had sent two ships to the area to be used for sea evacuations, if needed.

Fires continued on in six locations in Mugla, local forestry officials said. Another neighbourhood in Antalya province was evacuated as of Wednesday morning.

A man walks as the blaze approaches in Milas (Emre Tazegul/AP)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is under criticism for its inability to put down the fires but the minister of agriculture and forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli. tweeted that 160 fires in 34 provinces had been brought under control as 14 continued in five provinces.

Thousands of firefighters and civilians are trying to douse the flames.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said late on Tuesday that Turkey had hired four new helicopters from Ukraine that would be able to fight the fires after dark.

Planes sent from Spain and Croatia joined aircraft from Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Authorities have launched investigations into the cause of the fires, including possible sabotage by Kurdish militants.

Experts, however, mostly point to climate change as the culprit, along with accidents caused by people.

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