Residents flee as winds blow up wildfire in southern Turkey

Residents flee as winds blow up wildfire in southern Turkey
Residents flee as winds blow up wildfire in southern Turkey

A massive wildfire in southern Turkey spread to the city of Manavgat, as the flames were fanned by strong winds, according to the local mayor, and television showed residents running to their cars while the streets were shrouded in smoke.

The footage shows plumes of black smoke rising from the forest around Manavgat, 75 km (45 mi) east of the resort town of Antalya, with Mayor Sukru Sosen said the flames have spread to the city center, where many buildings have been evacuated.

"The fire has spread to the city center. With the wind it grows even more. We cannot determine the extent of the damage, there is destruction in the villages. We have not seen anything like this," Sosen told Haberturk TV and radio.

Antalya Mayor Mukhittin Bochek said the fire started in four different locations. He told Haberturk that four areas have been evacuated, but no casualties have yet been reported.

The authorities were unable to immediately say what caused the fire.

Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the authorities are fighting the flames with a fire plane, 19 helicopters, 108 vehicles and about 400 personnel.

The Turkish Emergency Management Agency AFAD reported that ambulance teams from neighboring provinces were involved in the work, and the authorities evacuated residents of settlements located near the forest.

Antalya, a popular holiday destination for both foreign and local tourists, is known for its scorching summer heat. Bochek said that the intense heat and strong wind fanned the fire that engulfed the pine forest.

The fire comes as Turkey is grappling with a string of disasters caused by extreme weather in recent weeks.

Flash floods occurred in the Black Sea provinces of Rize and Artvin earlier this month, damaging homes and property. In Rize, the flood killed six people.

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