Hills near the Turkish sea resort of Marmaris were once decked in a thick green pine forest until wildfires took the region in its grip, leaving the same hills looking like a ghostly, grey-brown landscape topped with blackened tree stumps as though sketched in charcoal.
Drone footage from the small tourist seaside town of İçmeler near Marmaris from before and after what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called Turkey’s worst wildfires shows the extent of the devastation.
In the last two weeks, the fires wrought damage on tens of thousands of hectares of forest cover in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean provinces, killed eight people and forced thousands of people, including tourists to flee.
Similar damage could be seen in before and after drone footage of the village of Bayır and the seaside resort of Turunç, also in the province of Muğla where both Marmaris and Bodrum, another major resort, are located.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Aug. 9 that the only wildfires continuing to burn were in the Muğla districts of Milas and Köyceğiz, with nearly 240 blazes brought under control in the last 13 days.
The Muğla Municipality said that 55,000 hectares of forestlands burned down, which is more than twice the area burned across the whole of Turkey last year, and that 36,000 people had to be evacuated.
Strong winds, low humidity and temperature above 40 degrees Celsius have contributed to the spread of the fires.
Firefighting efforts involved 15 planes, 64 helicopters and 5,250 personnel, Pakdemirli said.
The U.N. climate panel sounded a dire warning Monday, saying the world is dangerously close to runaway warming and that humans are “unequivocally” to blame, with greenhouse gas levels high enough to guarantee climate disruption for decades.
The 1.1-degree Celsius warming already recorded has been enough to unleash disastrous weather, including the wildfires in Turkey, Greece and the United States.
Meanwhile, the animals injured in forest fires are being taken care of along with local people.
Established in the Mediterranean province of Antalya’s Manavgat district, Turkey’s first field animal hospital works almost like an intensive care unit.
In the fully equipped animal hospital established by the Animal Rights Federation (HAYTAP) in Manavgat, animals, including sheep, turtles, donkeys, squirrels and birds, that survived the flames with injuries are regaining their health.
In the field hospital, where volunteer teams of veterinarians and animal lovers from many provinces work, around 350 animals have been cured so far.
The center also provides animal food support to villages damaged by the fire.
Hurriyet Daily News