Source: MODIS Terra satellite 28 October 2004 08:40 UTC The scene shows fires burning on the territory of Turkey but no fires in the critical region near Lattakia, Syria. The image provides evidence that the fires have been controlled by late Wednesday, 27 October 2004.
GFMC Update 28 October 2004 08:45GMT:
The GFMC has communicated with the government of Turkey which confirmed thatfires have been brought under control in the evening of 27 October 2004.
Additional information was receivedinformation by the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit National Focal Point inSyria, Mr. Erfan Ali, Director of Systems & Plans, Ministry of LocalAdministration & Environment:
I’ve just arrived Damascus from Alesawyah and Ras Albaseet north toLattakia, very close to the borders with Turkey, where this big fire started atalmost 17:00 yesterday. I accompanied the Minister of Local Administration andEnvironment to the fire area, and we arrived there at 2:30 in the morning. Wefound tens of firefighters in the area leaded by the Governor of Lattakia byhimself, with the attendance of the Governor of Antakia from Turkey. SomeTurkish firefighters participated effectively in fighting the fire. Theinvolvement of the Turkish fire airplanes also was useful in this event. Thefire destroyed a large woodland area. We left the location at 18:00 to Damascusafter the fire was under control, and the minister gave his orders to organizeobservers shifts in the area.
The followingtwo photos were taken on site by Mr. Erfan Ali (27 October 2004):
Turkey aids Syria on border fire
BBC News, 27 October 2004
Turkey has sent army planes and helicopters to help extinguish a forest fire in neighbouring Syria.
Syrian state media reported that at least one person was killed and 22 injured in the blazes near Syria’s main seaport ofLatakia.
The large fire raged across an area of 4 sq km. Officials say more than 25 villages were evacuated.
Turkey and Syria have significantly improved ties since 1998, when they nearly went to war.
At the time, Ankara accused Damascus of backing Kurdish separatist rebels fighting the Turkish government.
Syria’s local administration and environment minister, Hilal Atrash, told state media that “drought and unseasonal high temperatures” contributed to the fire.
Firefighters from five northern provinces were mobilised to combat the blazes, which were driven by a fierce northerly wind.
An elderly man was killed when his home was burnt down in Ras al-Basit, a coastal resort some 400km northwest of the Syrian capital, said state news agencySana.
Twenty-two other people, among them four firefighters, were taken to hospital in nearby towns.
“Fifteen fires ravaged more than 2,000 hectares of forest and orchards” and several homes were destroyed, Sana said.
Forest fires destroy most of three villages near Syria-Turkey border
ASSOCIATED PRESS, 27 October 2004
By Albert Aji
DAMASCUS, Syria Forest fires destroyed most of three villages near the Syrian-Turkish border, officials said, forcing 3,000 people to evacuate as Syrian and Turkish firefighters extinguished the blazes on Wednesday.
An elderly man trapped inside his burning home in the village of Eissaweya was the only reported death. Twenty-two people, including forest rangers and four firefighters, were treated for smoke inhalation or minor burns, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency.
An official with a local police department said the fire destroyed 400 of the 600 houses in Eissaweya, al-Faher and Um al-Toyor. The villages’ 3,000 inhabitants were evacuated, according to the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Police said the fires broke out Tuesday, affecting a 15-square-mile area, and were extinguished by midday Wednesday. The police official said, however, that a small blaze in the nearby village of al-Safra was still burning.
More than 60 fire engines and many volunteers worked through the night to bring the fires under control. Firefighting planes and vehicles from Turkey helped to fight the fires, which affected nine villages, SANA reported.
The agency quoted Environment Minister Hilal al-Atrash, who is supervising firefighting operations, as blaming the fires on drought and unseasonably warm weather.
The affected villages are along the Mediterranean near a border crossing with Turkey. They are near the port city of Latakia, 220 miles north of Damascus, but Latakia itself was not threatened.
Syria fire under control with Turkish help
RAS AL-BASSIT, Syria, Oct 27 (Reuters)
Syrian and Turkish firefighters have brought under control a woodland blaze that killed a man and injured scores of other people, officials from both countries said today.
”There are small fires but it is under control,” a Syrian official told Reuters.
Local Administration and Environment Minister Hilal al-Atrash said the cause was unknown but residents speculated a power line caused the fire.
”We heard that it was a power cable. It fell and caused the fire,” said one local farmer.
The fires broke out yesterday in a Syrian woodland close to Turkey, killing one man, injuring up to 60 people and destroying numerous houses, rescue workers said.
Ankara’s relations with Damascus have improved since they came close to war in 1998 over Syria’s support for Kurdish guerrillas seeking an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.
Al-Atrash expressed his government’s gratitude for Turkey which sent firefighters and aircraft to fight the blazes that broke out about 20 km away from the border.
The Turkish prime minister’s office said Turkey had sent three military planes, two helicopters and three fire engines after a request by Syria.
The governor of Turkey’s Hatay province, Abdulkadir Sari, said in a statement a Syrian village had been destroyed by the fire. Some 25 other Syrian villages had to be evacuated.
One dead, 22 injured in Syrian forest fires near Turkish border
DAMASCUS, Oct 27 (AFP) – At least one person was killed and 22 injured as fierce forest fires swept through a region of northwest Syria near the Turkish border, the state news agency SANA reported Wednesday.
It said the fires which broke out late Tuesday north of the Mediterranean port city of Latakia raged on throughout the night but had later been brought under control in certain areas.
An elderly man was killed when his home was burnt down in Ras al-Basit, a coastal resort some 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of the Syrian capital, said SANA.
Twenty-two other people, among them four firefighters, were hospitalised in nearby towns. “Fifteen fires ravaged more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of forest and orchards,” and several homes were destroyed, it said.
Residents contacted by telephone said firefighters were still battling the flames Wednesday afternoon in the pine forests of Latakia province. Ras al-Basit and the Kassab mountains were the worst hit.
“Drought and unseasonal high temperatures contributed” to the fire, said Syria’s local administration and environment minister, Hilal Atrash, quoted by SANA.
State radio, meanwhile, said the actual trigger was not yet known but the fires would be brought under control within hours.
According to SANA, firefighters from five northern provinces were mobilised to combat the blazes, which were driven by a fierce northerly wind.
Turkey said it gave a helping hand to combat the fires, in a new sign of rapprochement between the two former foes.
Acting on a request from Syrian authorities, the Turkish army dispatched three C-130 planes and the forestry ministry sent two helicopters to help douse the blaze, the premier’s office in Ankara said.
Officials in the Turkish border city of Hatay, meanwhile, sent three fire engines, it said.
Turkey and Syria have significantly improved ties since 1998 when they nearly went to war over Ankara’s accusations that Damascus was backing Kurdish separatist rebels fighting the Ankara government.