Only 13 wildfires remain out of dozens, but on Tuesday, Turkey still struggled to contain flames worsened by strong winds. Firefighters in six provinces have been battling various blazes since last Wednesday. The worst fires in terms of size and speed are in the Manavgat and Gündoğmuş districts of Antalya and in the Marmaris and Milas districts of Muğla. The fires, which came amid a heatwave prevalent in the country's west, also pose a risk of increasing the temperatures more in the future and thus triggering new blazes.
In Muğla, Çökertme Bay, a famed cove surrounded by pine and olive trees, was engulfed by a massive fire. Firefighters on the ground and water bomber planes and helicopters above were combatting the fire, hoping to stop it from reaching a thermal plant, while residents of the Çökertme neighborhood were evacuated.
To the north, a fire broke out in the Bozdoğan district of Aydın province and was brought under control on Monday morning as the flames were approaching neighboring Muğla. Also, early on Monday, a pine forest caught fire in Muğla’s Menteşe district. Forestry workers, firefighters and locals rushed to put out the flames.
A fire that erupted in the Gündoğmuş district of Antalya was largely under control late Monday, five days after it started. However, strong winds in the area occasionally spread the flames across many neighborhoods. The town center, where more than 7,000 people lived, was evacuated. Airplanes and helicopters, which were forced to stop efforts as the night fell, resumed operations on Tuesday morning.
In Manavgat, where dozens of houses were burned in a fire that killed seven people, including two firefighters, another neighborhood was evacuated late Monday.
Investigations are underway for potential arson, which may have caused the major fires. Authorities had earlier stated that it was being investigated whether the PKK terrorist group, which was behind previous arsons, was also the perpetrator of these forest fires. In some neighborhoods of Manavgat, where fires broke out one after another, people started patrolling streets against “arsonists.” Local security officials urged the public not to believe in disinformation and rumors being spread on social media and WhatsApp groups.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that 11 people remained hospitalized in Antalya after the fires while 598 others were discharged. Koca tweeted that 36 people were still in hospital after injuries suffered at the fires in Muğla while 271 others were discharged after they were treated.
Turkey plans to replant in the burned areas, but experts warn that heat levels in the affected regions are expected to worsen. Associate Professor Canan Acar of Bahçeşehir University says the ongoing climate change heightens the density of fires and makes them more difficult to extinguish. Forest fires also change weather patterns by substantially increasing carbon dioxide emissions into the air. Acar told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Tuesday that forest fires also emitted pollutants like ashes and aerosols into the air and that both had effects on weather. "Trees cool the areas where they exist, and losing them means more heat in those regions. In other words, forest fires generate heat, and this heat, in turn, accelerates forest fires in a vicious cycle," she said.
"Climate change accelerates the drying of organic materials in the forests, and this in turn worsens any potential fire. The long droughts and longer summers stemming from climate change mean we will see longer seasons of wildfires," she warned.
Another question Turkey faces is how to carry out reforestation efforts in burned areas. Most forests gutted by the fires are red pine forests, and experts say they can grow again by themselves without extra planting efforts. Professor Ertuğrul Bilgili of the Faculty of Forestry at Karadeniz Technical University (KTÜ) says the plant ecosystem will "renew itself" in burned areas within a few years. "The majority of forests, if circumstances allow, renew themselves, and in other places you have to apply appropriate reforestation techniques. In both cases, it will take a few years for forests to grow again," he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Professor Erol Kırdar, another forestry expert from Bartın University, says forests housing different types of pine that can regrow should be separated from trees that are more susceptible to fire and should instead be bolstered by other trees that are less affected by fires, such as cypress trees.
Professor Hüseyin Dirik of the Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Forestry of Istanbul University, says planting new trees in burned areas should be "a secondary option." "It might disturb the ecological balance in those areas. We have to make an inventory of burned trees. Red pines, although entirely burned, have living pine cones, and this gives a new life to burned forests," he told DHA.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.