Turkey – A forest fire that broke out on Thursday in Antalyas Aksu district, affecting 500 hectares of land, has successfully been contained, and firefighting teams are now working to extinguish it completely. The fire, which started near the town of Karaöz, was first brought under control early Saturday but it later started raging again. Officials said the fire was successfully contained at around 9 p.m. on Saturday after intense efforts. According to data provided by the Antalya Forestry Regional Directorate, 300 hectares of pine forest were burnt in the fire.
Officials said 16 helicopters and four planes as well as hundreds of forestry workers struggled to bring the fire under control. The helicopters reportedly made 800 tours in total as they dumped water on the fire and the four planes also reportedly made over 1,000 tours in order to contain the blaze. Officials added that fire trucks, bulldozers and volunteers are still working to completely put of the flame. Once the fire is put out officials are planning to conduct a damage assessment study. Officials from the Antalya Forestry Regional Directorate said the affected area will be unable to be reforested before March 2011. Turkey topped the list of countries in Europe suffering fire damages in 2008, during which a total of 29,749 hectares of forest were destroyed in 2,135 fires. Thanks to a rapid action plan adopted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the following year saw far less forestland vanish due to fires.
According to a report issued by the ministry in April 2010, the number of fires in 2009 was 1,793 and the forestland destroyed dropped to 4,679 hectares, considerably less than in 2008.