Wildfire in southwest Turkey largely contained, says minister

A wildfire in southwestern Turkey was largely contained on Wednesday, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said, after scenes of burning woodland reminded Turks of blazes last year that devastated tens of thousands of hectares across the region.

Aerial footage from forestry authorities earlier showed smoke billowing as fire spread through a forest in the sparsely populated area, fanned by strong winds.

Firefighters battled to extinguish the wildfire from air and land, officials said. The cause of the fire, which began around 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, remained unclear.

Kirisci said higher humidity and relatively lower temperatures were positive factors compared to the dry and extremely hot weather during last year’s fires.

“Our hope is that this issue is concluded today. We can cautiously say that the fire has largely been brought under control,” he said, speaking in the area of Bordubet where the fire broke out near the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris.

He said windy conditions meant the fire could still spread elsewhere.

Broadcaster CNN Turk said 30 houses were evacuated in the area overnight as a precaution.

Nearly 1,500 personnel, more than 360 vehicles, 20 helicopters and 14 planes were involved in tackling the blaze, officials said.

Last summer’s blazes, most of which were also near Marmaris, were the most intense in Turkey on record, a European Union atmosphere monitor said last year, adding that the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hotspot.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government was criticized as being unprepared to fight the fires last year. They responded by saying the fires were the worst in Turkey’s history.

Human-induced climate change is making heatwaves more likely and more severe, scientists say.

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