This content was published on August 4, 2021 – 10:01
MILAS, Turkey (Reuters) – A fire threatening a coal-fired power plant in southwest Turkey is under control, local authorities said on Wednesday, as firefighters battled coastal forest fires for an eighth day.
“The flames reached the wall of the power plant last night. The fire is now extinguished,” Mayor Milas Muhammet Tokat told Reuters.
Two planes and four helicopters had helped firefighters on the ground put out the flames, he said, and the power plant had resumed operations.
Authorities say more than 150 forest fires broke out last week in southwest Turkey, the worst outbreak in years, fueled by hot summer temperatures, low humidity and strong winds. Eight people were killed and thousands evacuated, including tourists.
Most of the fires have been extinguished, but local officials, including many from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have complained about the slow or insufficient response from the government.
Tokat said he requested air support in the area around the power plant a few days ago as he visited a nearby neighborhood damaged by the fire.
The plant’s flammable material tanks were emptied as a precaution, a reporter from the Demiroren news agency said, and ditches were dug as a firebreak.
Firefighting planes from Spain and Croatia joined teams from Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan this week to fight the fires, after Turkey asked for European support.
Opposition parties have criticized President Tayyip Erdogan and his government for depleting firefighting resources over the years. Thousands of people also took to social media to ask Erdogan to step down, while others criticized the lack of resources and what they called inadequate preparations.
(Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Toby Chopra)