Wildfires that erupted in northwestern Turkey on Tuesday continued to force people to leave their homes on Wednesday, with authorities evacuating more than 1,200 people in 11 villages, according to Turkish media reports.
The wildfires broke out in the Damyeri neighborhood of Çanakkale province at noon on Tuesday. Efforts are under way to contain the blazes, the cause of which is currently unknown.
At least 1,500 hectares of land [3,706 acres], 800 hectares of which were forest, have been destroyed by the fires. Strong winds in the region, which have reached a speed of 60 kilometers per hour, are said to be exacerbating the situation.
Agriculture Minister İbrahim Yumaklı, however, has announced that the spread of the fires has been halted by firefighting teams.
“Our teams stopped the fire from advancing. If there’s no wind, we will see the picture more clearly in the afternoon,” he added.
He said eight firefighting planes, 26 helicopters and 693 water trucks were taking part in the firefighting efforts.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 83 people have been treated for smoke inhalation.
Maritime traffic from the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara has been halted due to the ongoing forest fires.
Turkey has been trying to modernize its emergency response service after being gripped by hugely destructive fires along its southern and western coasts in 2021.
Those flames scorched more than 200,000 hectares (nearly 50,000 acres) of pine forest and claimed at least nine lives.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came under intense criticism for his response to the disaster at the time.