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Days after a raging forest fire in southern Turkey drove his family from the house they lived in for four decades, Mehmet Demir returned on Saturday to discover a burnt-out building, charred belongings and ashes.
Bed springs, a ladder, metal chairs and some kitchen utensils were the only things that were still recognizable after some of the worst fires in years ripped through the region, with some still burning four days after Wednesday’s eruption.
Demir’s house, near the Mediterranean coastal town of Manavgat, not far from the popular tourist resort of Antalya, was hit by one of nearly 100 fires that broke out this week, officials said in southern and western Turkey, where blistering heat and strong wind fanned the flames.
“The fire spread through the highlands and suddenly raged,” Demir told Reuters as he looked around the wreckage of his home built in 1982. “We had to flee to the center of Manavgat. Then we came back to find the house. find.”
“This was our (only) savings of the past 39-40 years. We’re left with the clothes we’re wearing now, me and my wife. There is nothing to do. This is when words fail.”
The death toll from the fires rose to six on Saturday, when two firefighters died trying to control the blaze in Manavgat, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
Satellite images showed smoke from the fires in Antalya and Mersin extended to the island of Cyprus, about 150 km (100 miles) away.
In southern Turkey, wildfires are common in the hot summer months, but local authorities say the latest fires have covered a much wider area.
With deadly heatwaves, floods and wildfires around the world, calls for urgent action to reduce the CO2 emissions that are warming the planet are growing.
Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said a total of 98 fires had broken out in the past four days, 88 of which were under control.
The fires continued in the southern coastal provinces of Adana, Osmaniye, Antalya, Mersin and the western coastal province of Mugla, a popular resort for Turks and foreign tourists, where some hotels have been evacuated this week.
Weather forecasts point to heatwaves along the coastal areas of the Aegean and Mediterranean, with temperatures expected to rise 4 to 8 degrees Celsius from their seasonal average, Turkish meteorological authorities say.
They are predicted to reach 43 to 47 degrees Celsius in the coming days in Antalya, the main province of Manavgat.
“The weather is extremely hot and dry. This contributes to the creation of fires. Our smallest mistake leads to a major disaster,” Turkish climate scientist Levent Kurnaz said on Twitter.
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