Forest fires have reached more residential areas of southern Turkey, forcing evacuations after the firefighters and volunteers helped contain 152 fires since July 28.
A week after massive wildfires erupted across the country's south and southwestern coast, Turkey is still battling the blazes amid soaring temperatures.
According to the country’s Forestry Directorate, Turkey has contained 160 of 174 wildfires that have emerged since July 28. At least eight people have died in the blazes.
The directorate said in a statement on Wednesday that the wildfires took place in 39 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, adding that the remaining 14 blazes are ongoing in five provinces around southern and southwestern Turkey: Antalya, Mugla, Aydin, Isparta, and Denizli.
The Turkish fires have been fuelled by a heatwave that has hit the Mediterranean, fed by hot air from North Africa.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that 16,603 residents of 3,219 households in 28 neighbourhoods have been evacuated due to the fires in the country’s south.
Also on Tuesday, a court in southern Turkey ordered that a suspect arrested over destructive forest fires be remanded in custody.
New fire breaks out near power plant
A new fire broke out on Wednesday near a western Turkish thermal power plant that rescuers have been trying to save.
The fire appeared at the foot of a hill in front of the Yenikoy Kemerkoy power plant, near the Aegean Sea town of Milas.
Huge plumes of yellow smoke billowed over the plant, partially covering its chimney from view.
The local mayor's office said hydrogen tanks used to cool the plant had been emptied and filled with water as a precaution.
The new blazes broke out after rescuers used helicopters and water cannon to beat back the first wave of blazes that reached the plant on Tuesday afternoon.
The plant operates using coal and fuel oil, officials said.
Fire reaches more residential areas in Mugla
One of Turkey's worst-affected areas is the province of Mugla, where volunteer citizens along with firefighting forces do their best to prevent the fire from spreading any further.
The Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that the fire had reached more residential areas of southern Turkey, forcing evacuations.
The blaze started in the Beyciler neighbourhood of Milas district in Mugla province and spread to four neighbourhoods in Bodrum district, reaching the Turkevleri and Oren neighbourhoods.
The flames, which spread rapidly with the strong wind, forced residents of one area to leave their homes.
In the popular tourist destination of Antalya, strong winds, soaring temperatures and humidity have hampered efforts to stop the flames from spreading.
Forest fires have forced several villages to evacuate.
The worst-hit areas have been Akseki and Gundogmus districts.
Firefighters are also still trying to contain a massive fire in Manavgat district both by air and land operations. The blaze in the district broke out on July 28.
From Manavgat to Kalemler
The blaze in the region of Manavgat reached Kalemler village, damaging houses and forests.
Authorities ordered the emergency evacuation of the residents on Sunday as a fresh blaze was to engulf the houses in Kalemler village.
"I was trapped in the fire, and you can see my ears are burned. That was a narrow escape. The rescuers sent me to the hospital. I inhaled fumes from the fire, and now my voice has turned like this," a villager told reporters at the scene, "My house is burnt, there is nothing left but ashes."
Aerial and land response units are also responding to forest fires in Isparta province.
The fires broke out in a forest and spread in a short time because of heavy winds.
The wildfires that erupted last Wednesday in the country have claimed eight lives so far.
At present, over 4,000 firefighters and hundreds of fire trucks are still battling across the country to contain the fires.
The Forestry Directorate said it responded to wildfires in 98 rural areas with 16 firefighting aircraft, nine unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 51 helicopters, one unmanned helicopter, 850 firefighter trucks and water tankers and 150 construction vehicles.
The European Union also announced that the bloc would send three firefighting planes from Croatia and Spain after Turkey activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on Sunday.