© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A forest fire burns near the city of Manavgat, east of the resort town of Antalya, Turkey, on July 29, 2021. REUTERS / Kaan Soyturk
By Mert Ozkan
MANAVGAT (Reuters) – Days after a devastating forest fire in southern Turkey drove his family from the house they lived in for four decades, Mehmet Demir returned on Saturday to discover a burned building, charred belongings and ashes.
Bed springs, a ladder, metal chairs and some kitchen utensils were the only things left identifiable after some of the worst fires in years swept through the region, and several of them were still burning four days after they broke out. on Wednesday.
Demir’s house, near the Mediterranean seaside town of Manavgat, not far from the popular tourist center of Antalya, was hit by one of nearly 100 fires that authorities say broke out this week in southern and western Turkey. , where sweltering heat and strong winds fanned the flames.
“The fire spread through the highlands and broke out suddenly,” Demir told Reuters as he looked around the rubble of his house, built in 1982. “We had to flee to downtown Manavgat. Then we went back to find the house like that. “
“This was our (only) savings for the last 39-40 years. Now we are left with the clothes that we wear, my wife and I. There is nothing to do. This is when words fail.”
The death toll from the fires rose to six on Saturday, when two firefighters were killed during efforts to control the blaze in Manavgat, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
Satellite images showed smoke from the fires in Antalya and Mersin spreading to the island of Cyprus, about 150 km (100 miles) away.
Wildfires are common in southern Turkey in the hot summer months, but local authorities say the latest fires have covered a much larger area.
With deadly heatwaves, floods and wildfires occurring around the world, calls are growing for urgent action to reduce the CO2 emissions that are warming the planet.
Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a total of 98 fires had broken out in the past four days, of which 88 were under control.
The fires continued in the southern coastal provinces of Adana, Osmaniye, Antalya, Mersin and the western coastal province of Mugla, a popular tourist region for Turks and foreign tourists, where some hotels have been evacuated this week.
Weather forecasts point to heat waves along the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions, with temperatures expected to rise 4-8 degrees Celsius above their seasonal average, Turkish meteorological authorities say.
They are forecast to hit between 43 and 47 degrees Celsius in the coming days in Antalya, the main province of Manavgat.
“The weather is extremely hot and dry. This contributes to the starting of fires. Our smallest mistake leads to a major disaster,” Turkish climate scientist Levent Kurnaz said on Twitter.
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