Forest fire in southwestern Datça brought under control, says minister

Turkey's Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişci said on July 14 that the forest fire in the southwestern resort of Datça was brought under control a day after it broke out.

Reuters - Duvar English 

A forest fire in Turkey's southwestern Datça peninsula was brought under control on July 14 some 24 hours after it started, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişci said, with thousands of people having been temporarily evacuated from the area.

The fire was fanned by strong winds that spread to residential areas overnight, with seven aircraft and 14 helicopters fighting the blaze, Minister Kirişci said.

"The fire in Datca is under control. Cooling efforts continue," he said, adding that investigations showed the fire broke out at an electrical transformer around noon on July 13. 

Turkey's Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said some 450 houses and 3,530 people were evacuated as fires reached residential areas in sparsely populated parts of the peninsula.

Footage from July 13 showed smoke billowing from the woodlands as helicopters doused water on the blazes while the flames spread. It also showed the garden of a house engulfed in smoke, with trees in the yard catching fire.

The Muğla province mayor's office said 17 houses and 728 hectares of land were affected by the fire. It shared data that showed winds in the region had eased significantly on Thursday morning.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 19 people had been affected by the fire and nine of them were still being treated as of July 14 morning. Some 2,400 people were evacuated as a precaution, Kirişci said.

Authorities said 10 planes and 20 helicopters, including one that can operate at night, were involved in the efforts to douse the flames.

Another fire that broke out in the Aegean resort town of Çeşme was contained on July 14 morning, the forestry authority said.

Separately, a fire broke out in İzmir's Bergama district early on July 14. The blazes encircled a milk factory in the Sağancı neighborhood. Authorities later announced that the fire was brought under control. 

Countries like France and Portugal – suffering from a second heatwave in as many months – have been hit by a series of wildfires over the last few weeks. Scientists say human-induced climate change is making heatwaves more likely and more severe.

The blazes in southwestern Turkey conjured memories of last year’s summer fires which ravaged 140,000 hectares of countryside, the worst on record.

A suspected deliberate fire in June destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest land nearby, prompting members of the opposition to criticise the government for not being sufficiently prepared even after last year’s fires.