ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Firefighting crews battle for a third day on Thursday wind-driven wildfires that has blackened a swath of pine forest near a popular resort in southwestern Turkey and driven dozens of people from their homes.
More than 2,500 firefighters, aided by water-dropping planes and helicopters, were deployed to fight the blazes that erupted on Tuesday in the Bordubet region, near Marmaris on the Aegean Sea coast. The blaze spread rapidly, fanned by winds.
Authorities have evacuated more than 150 people from the area as a precaution, Turkey’s forestry minister, Vahit Kirisci, told reporters late Wednesday.
The fires, which erupted a year after the worst wildfires in Turkey’s history, were burning in two locations in the Bordubet region, he said.
“It is not out of control but we cannot say yet that it has been brought under control,” he said.
A total of 27 water-dropping helicopters, 14 planes and 2,600 personnel were involved in the efforts to tame the blazes, the minister said.
Prosecutors were investigating what ignited the fire, including the possibility of arson.
Extended drought conditions in several Mediterranean countries, a heat wave last week that reached northern Germany and high fuel costs for aircraft needed to fight wildfires have heightened concerns across Europe this summer.
Last summer, blazes that were fed by strong winds and scorching temperatures tore through forests in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions, including Marmaris. The wildfires, which killed at least eight people and countless animals, were described as the worst in Turkey’s history.
Villages and resorts had to be evacuated, with some people fleeing to beaches to be rescued by sea. The wildfires also threatened two coal-burning power plants.
Erdogan’s government came under criticism for its inadequate response and preparedness to fight large-scale wildfires, including a lack of modern firefighting planes.