Turkey fires: where are the wildfires in Marmaris and other tourist spots – how the weather is spreading them

Officials say 167 fires have been brought under control and 16 continued in five provinces

Wildfires continue to burn for a ninth day in Turkey’s Mediterranean region, with one blaze that reached a coal-fuelled power plant forcing nearby residents to flee in boats.

Officials have said that the fire – which threatened the Kemerkoy power plant in Mugla province at the country's south-western corner – has now been controlled having burned for more than 11 hours.

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But before it was contained, navy vessels were deployed to help ferry away residents, while cars formed long convoys on roads leading away from the area.

People extinguish bushes in flame during a massive forest fire which engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey's southern coast (Photo: ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images)

A potent combination of strong winds, scorching heat and low humidity have fanned flames in southern Turkey, the country’s worst wildfires in decades, killing at least eight people as homes burned down.

Here is everything you need to know.

Where are the fires?

In coastal Mugla province, where tourist hot spot Bodrum is located, fires continued to burn in six areas on Thursday (5 August), officials said.

A firefighter battles with fire during a massive wildfire which engulfed a Mediterranean resort region on Turkey's southern coast (Photo: ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Fires also raged in five districts of Antalya province, another tourism destination, where two neighbourhoods were evacuated on 4 August.

Earlier in the week, the worst fires were in the Manavgat and Akseki regions in Antalya province in the south west of the country, where strong winds pushed the fire toward settlements. An 82-year-old man and a married couple died there.

A week ago, a fire near the resort of Marmaris, about 200 miles west of Antalya, raised the death toll when a 25-year old volunteer – who was taking drinking water to firefighters – was involved in a motorcycle crash and perished in the fire.

Officials say 167 fires have been brought under control and 16 continued in five provinces, though the country’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said strong winds were reigniting flames that had previously been brought under control.

Thousands of firefighters and civilians are working to douse the flames.

What happened at the power plant?

Turkey’s defence ministry said it was evacuating people by sea as the fires neared the Kemerkoy power plant in Mugla province on Wednesday (4 August).

State broadcaster TRT said the flames had “jumped” to the plant, and that strong winds were making the fires unpredictable.

Authorities said safety precautions were taken at the plant and its hydrogen tanks were emptied, while TRT said flammable and explosive substances had been removed.

Videos from the area showed bright orange, burning hills with power towers and lines crisscrossing the foreground. Pro-government news channel A Hbr broadcasting live from near the evacuated power plant said firefighters were working inside the compound cooling equipment and dousing sparks in an effort to keep the fire away.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the power plant was at risk of burning, and that three ministers were there to oversee developments, adding planes and helicopters had been there all day to fight the fires.

But Mayor Muhammet Tokat said air support came infrequently and only focused on the closer flames around the plant rather than addressing the wider fires in the area that were being fanned by shifting winds.

The fire has now been brought under control, authorities have said.

Who is to blame for the fires?

Wildfires are common in Turkey’s Mediterranean regions during the arid summer months, and a heat wave across southern Europe, fed by hot air from North Africa, has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean, including in nearby Italy and Greece.

The hot spell is forecast to continue until the end of the week.

Some previous forest fires have been blamed on arson or outlawed Kurdish militants, and authorities have launched investigations into the fires; the mayor for Marmaris said he couldn’t rule out “sabotage” as a cause for the fire there.

Fahrettin Altun, a top aide to President Erdogan, said “those responsible will have to account for the attacks against nature and forests.”

The fires have become a widely discussed political topic in Turkey over the past week, with Erdogan accusing opposition party members of a “terror of lies” for criticising Turkey’s lack of adequate aerial firefighting capabilities.

When faced with claims that the country was ill-prepared for such large-scale wildfires, the president said it was down to the municipalities to protect towns from fires, and that responsibility did not fall on the central government.

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