Turkey fires: Despite exta crews battling hard, hot and dry conditions mean the wildfires rage on
Fires are still ravaging parts of southern Turkey as temperatures continued to soar amidst low humidity despite extra crews and personnel being drafted in.
We noticed a significant increase in firefighting units and crews as they battled to contain huge fires which have now moved to Turkevleri.
The crews are urgently trying to stop the flames spreading a few kilometres away to one of the main power stations in the area which provides electricity to more than half a million people.
Heavy machinery was brought in to dig deep scars in the mountain forest to try to create a break and stem the flames ripping through.
A team from Istanbul’s airport fire protection unit was half way up the mountain, furiously dragging hoses in and out of trees trying to douse the oncoming fires.
Ozan Karakis, the Commander, told us: “We have enough teams. We have more than enough equipment but it’s just too dry and it’s very tough terrain and the vehicles cant easily move here.”
He went on to say climate change had made it more challenging because the temperatures were much hotter and it is much drier, but he insisted the crews were on top of the situation and keeping it under control.
His reassurances came as the Turkish media watchdog RTUK issued advisories to outlets warning them they faced “heavy punitive sanctions” if they continued to focus on the actual fires and disregarded the “successes” of containing and putting out around 130 fires.
The warning note complained the media reports were causing alarm and panic amongst the population as well as impacting the morale of the fire-fighting crews.
In nearby Bozalan – another community in the Mugla area – we saw fire crews busily cutting down surviving bushes and foliage and urgently dousing the still-smouldering embers of the fire which had ripped through just a few hours earlier.
The earth is still so hot, several hotspots are reigniting after they’ve been contained. One firefighter was mopping his burned face with a damp cloth. He told us he’d suffered the burns whilst fighting the fire in Bodrum’s Titanic hotel a few days earlier.
Mustafa Ali has been a firefighter for a decade and he’s not giving a single thought to stopping now. There’s too much to do and no time to do it in if they’re to tackle these wildfires.
“I don’t even think about it. And I just cool it down with water if it starts hurting,” he tells us.
“‘I’ve been working day and night, 24/7 because this job is my heart.”