By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
With temperatures soaring, the first days of July have ushered in forest fire season in Turkish coastal provinces, with fire-fighting teams busy battling the blazes.
In the Aegean province of Izmir, 11 helicopters and four seaplanes are trying to control a blaze in the Menderes district which started on July 1 in shrubland and spread to forested areas.
Fire has already claimed some 800 hectares of forestland in Izmir. Forestry Directorate officials said the fire has been contained and fire-fighting teams are working to extinguish it.
Stray sparks brought down a fire-fighting helicopter in Izmir on Sunday, injuring five members of its crew.
Canakkale, also on the Aegean, is also battling a blaze that has so far claimed 30 hectares of forest.
“Our teams are trying to open the roads to get into the area, while copters have been helping from the air since sunrise,” said Refik Ulusoy, Canakkale’s regional forestry director.
In the Mediterranean province of Mersin, a fire in the Anamur district has damaged around 150 hectares of Turkish pine. Since the blaze began on July 1, three helicopters, 46 street sprinklers, and 20 water tankers have been on duty.
Another fire in the Mediterranean region, in Antalya’s Kas district, has been brought under control, according to Mustafa Turk, the head of Antalya’s Forestry Directorate.
A helicopter remains on duty should the blaze return, he added.