Turkey has been enduring tons of raging wildfires that have killed nearly eight people and countless animals. Local reporters said that a coal-fueled power plant in Turkey’s southwestern coast and nearby residential areas were evacuated Wednesday evening as flames from a wildfire reached the plant.
Mugla Mayor Osman Gurun confirmed that the fire has spread to the Kemerkoy Thermal Power Plant buildings, and all the explosive chemicals in the facility have been cleared. “However, there is a risk of the fire spreading to thousands of tons of coal inside,” Gurun noted.
According to local reporters, the wildfires had also provoked the evacuation of the adjoining Oren seaside area. As a precaution, hydrogen tanks were emptied and filled with water, and all explosive chemicals were removed, according to local officials. The privately run plant uses lignite to generate electricity, according to its website.
A government news channel broadcasting live from the power plant said that firefighters continued working inside the compound cooling equipment and extinguished sparks to keep the fire away.
“In the past week, Turkey has been battling intense wildfires, most of them along the Mediterranean Sea and Aegean Sea coasts”, NASA’s Earth Observatory stated.
“The Mediterranean Basin, where many of the fires are burning, is one of the most susceptible places to climate change risks”, Hikmet Ozturk, a forestry expert with the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, told CNN. “Typical weather conditions in the summer for the area is hot and dry, which means the risk of fires is already high, and climate change raises that risk,” he added.
Notably, the fires are triggered by extreme heat, low humidity and strong winds. The government has controlled nearly 167 fires while 16 still burn, The Associated Press reported. Consequently, these intense wildfires have destroyed a massive number of forests killing at least eight people and quite a few animals.
“Hot and dry conditions, along with strong winds have made the wildfires in Turkey worse”, Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said.
For decades, experts are giving word of warning that climate change would make heat waves more extreme. Turkey and southeastern Europe have been facing such intense heat since the 1980s, and much of it is not even recorded, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.