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Southwestern Turkey wildfire under control, minister says

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A forest fire on Turkey’s southwestern Datça peninsula was brought under control on Thursday, some 24 hours after it started, a government minister said, with thousands of people having been temporarily evacuated from the area, Reuters reported.

The fire was fanned by strong winds that spread to residential areas overnight, with seven aircraft and 14 helicopters fighting the blaze, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirişçi said.

“The fire in Datça is under control. Cooling efforts continue,” he said, adding that investigations showed the fire broke out at an electrical transformer around noon on Wednesday.

Turkey’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said some 450 houses and 3,530 people were evacuated as fires reached residential areas in sparsely populated parts of the peninsula.

Footage from Wednesday showed smoke billowing from the woodlands as helicopters doused water on the blazes while the flames spread. It also showed the garden of a house engulfed in smoke, with trees in the yard catching fire.

The Muğla province mayor’s office said 17 houses and 728 hectares of land were affected. It shared data showing winds in the region had eased significantly on Thursday morning.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 19 people had been affected by the fire and nine of them were still being treated as of Thursday morning.

Countries including France and Portugal — suffering from a second heatwave in as many months — have been hit by a series of wildfires over the last few weeks. Scientists say human-induced climate change is making heatwaves more likely and more severe.

The blazes in southwestern Turkey conjured memories of last year’s summer fires that ravaged 140,000 hectares (345,950 acres) of countryside, the worst on record.

Another fire that broke out in the Aegean resort town of Çeşme was contained on Thursday morning, the forestry authority said.

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