‘The animals are on fire,’ devastated farmers say as wildfire spreads through Turkey


“The animals are on fire,” resident Muzeyan Kakar, 56, told CNN. “Everything is going to burn. Our land, our animals and our house. What else do we have anyway?”

Hundreds of miles west, in the tourist hotspot of Bodrum, more than 1,000 people were evacuated by boat on both Sunday and Saturday to escape wildfires.

At least eight people have died in more than 100 fires that broke out earlier this week, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. Scorching summer temperatures and conditions have fueled the flames, which experts say have been worsened by climate change.

Anadolu reported that seven people died in a fire in Manavgat, Antalya province, and an eighth person died in Marmaris. The latest victims include a Turkish-German couple who were found in a house.

Two firefighters were killed in the fire on Saturday, according to Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The ministry said 111 fires have been lit across the country since Wednesday, while six fires are still burning in three different cities as of Sunday.

evacuation by sea

More than 1,100 people were evacuated from a tourist destination in Bodrum by sea for the second day in a row on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast on Sunday.

“We helped evacuate 1,140 people in 12 boats,” Bodrum Maritime Chamber president Orhan Dink told CNN.

“We took people out in boats yesterday as well, but I have never seen this before in this area. This is the first time,” he said.

The DNC said that while roads remain open and evacuations from land continue, evacuations from the seas help keep roads clear for fire trucks and ambulances.

The city’s mayor, Ahmet Aras, said Bodrum used more than 20 boats to evacuate 1,100 people on Saturday. Bodrum is a popular destination for both Turkish and foreign tourists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared parts of five provinces on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast “disaster zones” after a helicopter visit to the devastated areas.

“We will continue to take all steps to heal the wounds of our people, recover losses and make opportunities better than ever,” the president said in a tweet on Saturday.

‘Gone, Gone, Gone’

According to Turkey’s Directorate of Natural Disasters and Emergency, at least three people died in the worst fire in Manavghat.

In nearby Kaklarar village, residents are facing problems seeing hand-built houses burnt to the ground.

Gule Kakkar, 48, told CNN: "Everything's going to burn.  Our land, our animals and our home."

“My father’s house burnt down,” said 48-year-old Gule Kakar. “Gone, gone, it’s gone,” Kakar said, before adding that she was “running to let the animals loose.”

Namet Ateeq, 37, a farmer from a neighboring village, said he had come to Kaklarar for help. “Whatever this village needs… we are here for them,” he told CNN

“We bring them water, our cars, tractors, saws,” he said. “We are the villagers of the forest. Our livelihood is the forest. If this fire goes on, there is no return.”

About 4,000 personnel along with hundreds of emergency vehicles have been deployed by the government to help fight the flames this week.

Turkey’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli told reporters on Thursday that at least 77 homes have been damaged and more than 2,000 farm animals have died in Antalya province.

Firefighters tried to extinguish a fire in the early morning of Friday 30 July in the village of Kirli, near the city of Manavghat in Antalya province.
A helicopter fights a forest fire in the village of Kaklarar near the Mediterranean coastal city of Manavgat on Saturday, July 31.

scorching hot

Pakdemirli said on Thursday that hot and dry weather had fueled the fire. He said temperatures of 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), less than 14% humidity and winds of about 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) helped spread the flames, he said.

Hikmet Ozturk, a forestry expert at the Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, a non-governmental organization working to protect forests, told CNN that 95% of fires in Turkey are caused by people, while the spread of fires would have been worsened by climate change. Is.

Ozturk said the fire zone is within the Mediterranean basin that is most susceptible to climate change risks. “The typical summer weather conditions for the region are hot and dry, which means the risk of fire is already high, and climate change increases that risk,” he said.

The wildfires come as a result of severe flooding in recent weeks in parts of Western Europe. Scientists have warned for decades That climate change will make extreme weather events more likely, including heavy rains and deadly flooding.

CNN’s Gul Tuysuz and Arva Damon reported from Turkey. Sheena McKenzie wrote in London. CNN’s Isil Sarius and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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