Dozens of villages in tourist hotspots in southern Turkey were evacuated on Sunday as forest fires that killed six people raged for a fifth day, while Greece, Italy and Spain were also hit by fires.
Driven by rising temperatures, strong winds and climate change – which experts say are increasing the frequency and intensity of such fires – this year’s fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average, EU data shows.
Turkey has its worst fires in at least a decade, with nearly 95,000 hectares (235,000 acres) burned so far this year, compared to an average of 13,516 at this point in the years between 2008 and 2020.
CNN Turkey reported that a neighborhood in the tourist town of Bodrum had been evacuated, as strong winds caught fire from nearby Milas.
The channel said that 540 residents who were unable to leave by land were taken to hotels by boat.
NTV reported that there were more evacuations in the tourist city of Antalya.
After hitting record levels last month, temperatures are set to remain elevated in the region.
A temperature of 49.1 °C (120.3 °F) was recorded in southeast Caesar on July 20.
The mercury is expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius in Antalya on Monday.
The Turkish Defense Ministry published satellite images showing the extent of the damage, with forest areas turning black and smoke still visible.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under fire after it was found that Turkey does not have firefighting planes even though a third of its land is forested and fires have become a growing problem.
According to EU figures, Turkey suffered 133 fires in 2021 so far compared to an average of 43 at this point in the year between 2008 and – the Greek «disaster» –
Firefighters are also battling fires in Greece after a large fire broke out early Saturday morning near Patras in the west.
Five villages have been evacuated and eight people have been hospitalized with burns and respiratory problems in the area, which remains on alert.
About 20 homes were burned, according to a provisional figure from the fire
The mayor of the neighboring village, Dimitris Kalogeropoulos, described it as «a huge city
The fires in the villages of Ziria destroyed about 30 houses, barns and stables.
Kamaris, Atchias and Walbury.
«We slept outside all night, afraid we wouldn’t have a home when we woke up,» a resident of Obeiri told Greek TV station Sky.
The seaside resort of Logos has also been evacuated, with nearly 100 residents and tourists sent to the nearby city of Aegio.
According to EU data, 13,500 hectares were burned in Greece, compared to an average of 7,500 at this point in the year from 2008 to 2020.
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Italy has once again been hit by fires after a fire in Sardinia destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forests, olive groves and crops last weekend.
The Italian fire brigade said more than 800 outbreaks were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south.
«In the past 24 hours, firefighters have carried out more than 800 interventions: 250 in Sicily, 130 in Puglia and Calabria, 90 in Lazio and 70 in Campania,» the brigade wrote on Twitter.
She added that firefighters are still working against the fires in the Sicilian cities of Catania,
Palermo and Syracuse.
While southern Italy was burning, the north suffered severe storms.
«The cost of the damage inflicted throughout the northern Italian countryside by storms and violent cold during this crazy summer amounts to tens of millions of euros,» the agricultural organization Coldiretti said.
In Spain, dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping planes battle a forest fire that broke out on Saturday afternoon near the San Juan Reservoir, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) east of Madrid.
On Sunday, firefighters said they managed to put out the fire at night, but locally
Authorities urged people to stay away from the reservoir, a popular bathing spot for residents of the Spanish capital.
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