ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Firefighters have been battling wind-ravaged wildfires for three days on Thursday, blackening a strip of pine forest near a popular resort in southwestern Turkey and driving dozens of people from their homes.
More than 2,500 firefighters, aided by planes and helicopters launching water, were sent to put out the blazes that erupted in the Bordubet region near Marmaris on the Aegean coast on Tuesday. The fire spread quickly, blown by the wind.
Authorities evacuated more than 150 people as a precaution, Turkish Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci told reporters late Wednesday.
The fires, which erupted a year after the worst fires in Turkey’s history, were burning at two locations in the Bordubet region, he said.
“He didn’t get out of control, but we can’t yet say he was out of control,” he said.
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The firefighting helicopters involved 27 helicopters, 14 planes and 2,600 personnel, the minister said.
Prosecutors were investigating what ignited the fire, including the possibility of arson.
Prolonged droughts in several Mediterranean countries, a heat wave last week that hit northern Germany, and high fuel costs for aircraft needed to fight forest fires have raised concerns across Europe this summer.
Last summer, fires fueled by strong winds and high temperatures flooded forests in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions, including Marmaris. The wildfires, which killed at least eight people and countless animals, have been described as the worst in Turkish history.
Villages and resorts had to be evacuated, and some people fled to the beaches to be rescued by sea. The fires also threatened two coal-fired power plants.
Erdogan’s government has been criticized for its inadequate response and readiness to fight large-scale wildfires, including the lack of modern firefighting aircraft.
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