Forest fires believed to have been started deliberately at separate locations near a famous Turkish holiday resort have left hundreds of people homeless and hundreds more to flee their homes to escape the flames.
The forest fires broke out around noon yesterday (28th July) at four different points in Yenikoy, Evrenseki, Colakli and Kalemler neighbourhoods in the district of Manavgat in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, a major centre of the local tourist industry.
The fire, which first broke out in the forest area near Yenikoy neighbourhood, spread around with the effect of the north wind. At the same time, the fires that broke out in Evrenseki, Colakli and Kalemler neighbourhoods also grew into a larger area.
The gendarmerie evacuated the settlements there in a short time. The entire village of Yukariseki and half of another village were burned down. Many small animals as well as cattle perished.
Extinguishing works were intervened with two manned planes, one unmanned aerial vehicle, 19 helicopters, 192 water sprinklers, 30 water supply vehicles and 960 personnel as well as 19 ambulances, six medical rescue teams and a mobile command vehicle were sent to the region by the Ministry of Health.
According to the news website Sabah’s, 62 people were injured by the fire. Three of them were treated for burns, two for fractures, and 57 for exposure to smoke. No fatalities have been reported yet.
Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Muhittin Bocek said, “I have not seen such fires. No loss of life so far. It is thought-provoking that fires broke out at four points at the same time. It will be investigated whether there is arson.”
Many videos of the fire were shared on social media. The size of the fire and the layer of smoke covering the sky in the videos drew attention to the seriousness of the incident.
First Lady Emine Erdogan, the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveyed her best wishes to the people of Antalya in the post she shared on her Twitter account.
She said, “I wish the fires to be put out before anyone gets hurt. Disasters cause irreparable losses. Nature is our only treasure that we should cherish.”
Manavgat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the fires.