© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A forest fire burns near the town of Manavgat, east of the resort of Antalya, Turkey, July 29, 2021. REUTERS / Kaan Soyturk
By Mert Özkan
MANAVGAT, Turkey (Reuters) – Days after a raging wildfire in southern Turkey drove his family from the house they had lived in for four decades, Mehmet Demir returned Saturday and discovered a burned-out building, charred belongings and ashes.
Bed springs, a ladder, metal chairs and some kitchen utensils were the only things identifiable after some of the worst fires in years in the area, several of which were still burning four days after they broke out on Wednesday.
Demir’s house near the coastal town of Manavgat on the Mediterranean Sea and not far from the popular tourist resort of Antalya was hit by one of around 100 fires that, according to official information, broke out this week in southern and western Turkey. Burning heat and a strong wind fanned the flames.
“The fire spread across the highlands and suddenly raged,” Demir told Reuters as he looked around the rubble of his 1982 home. “We had to flee to the center of Manavgat. Then we came back and found the house like this.” . “
“That was our (only) savings for the past 39-40 years. We now have the clothes we wear, me and my wife. There is nothing to do. Then words fail.”
The fire death toll rose to six on Saturday when two firefighters died fighting the fire in Manavgat, officials said. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.
The smoke from the fires in Antalya and Mersin spread to the island of Cyprus, about 150 km away, as satellite images showed.
In the popular resort of Bodrum on the Aegean coast, a new fire broke out on Saturday and some residential areas and hotels were evacuated, according to the broadcaster.
Video footage showed clouds of smoke rising from mountains over Bodrum and a helicopter draining water as firefighters tried to control the fire before it reached residential areas.
Forest fires are common in southern Turkey in the summer, but authorities say the recent fires have spread across a much larger area.
HEAT WAVES IN THE REGION
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a total of 101 fires had broken out in the past four days, 91 of which were under control.
Fires continued in the southern coastal provinces of Antalya, Mersin and the western coastal Mugla province, including Bodrum and central Usak province, Pakdemirli said.
Turkish weather authorities said the forecasts pointed to heat waves along the coastal regions of the Aegean and Mediterranean. Temperatures are expected to reach 43 to 47 degrees Celsius (109.4-116.6 Fahrenheit) next week in Antalya.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on a visit to Manavgat on Saturday that any damaged houses would be rebuilt and the losses made up, adding that Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and Iran have sent fire-fighting planes and support teams to the affected areas.
In neighboring Greece https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/greece-issues-wildfires-warning-over-dangerous-heatwave-2021-07-30, the authorities warned the public about unnecessary work and travel on Friday, there the temperature in Athens reached 40 ° C and the ancient Acropolis, its most visited monument, had to be closed for a short time.
On the Italian island of Sicily, firefighters said on Saturday they were fighting over forest fires that hit the city of Catania for a second day in a row https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/firemen-fighting-wildfires-sicilian-town- catania -2021-07-31, forcing people to leave their homes and temporarily close the local airport.