Three villages evacuated as forest fire scorches Karabük

Three villages evacuated as forest fire scorches Karabük

19 April 2012

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Turkey — A forest fire that broke out in Safranbolu, a district of the northern province of Karabük, on Wednesday forced local authorities to evacuate three villages, with the fire yet to be completely contained.

The fire broke out in a forest in Safranbolu and spread quickly due to the strong winds affecting most parts of Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday. The villages of Çıraklar, Kadıbükü and Çerçen were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

Forestry Directorate Deputy General Manager Mustafa Kurtulmuşlu said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that the fire was expected to be brought under control within two hours, unless winds get stronger. “Firefighting teams worked throughout the night to contain the fire and they are still working. Firefighting equipment and teams were sent here from 11 other provinces to help contain the fire,” he stated.

Kurtulmuşlu added that the fire is thought to have been caused by farmers burning stubble left over after harvesting cereal crops. “But this is not certain,” he said.

He said some 500 hectares of forestland have been damaged in the fire. “This land will be reforested. A tree will be planted to replace every single tree burned,” he said. Kurtulmuşlu added that most of the trees in the area were Calabrian pine.

Furthermore, the storm which battered much of Turkey on Wednesday continued through Thursday in several provinces. Ankara was heavily affected by strong winds, which sheared roofs and spread fires. The storm caused the minaret of the Paşa Mosque in Ankara’s Haymana district to collapse onto the main road; however, no one was struck by the debris. Additionally, the minaret of a mosque in the village of Kerpiç, also in Haymana, collapsed onto the home of the mosque’s imam, seriously damaging the house.

Haymana Mayor Hacı Aysu told the press on Thursday that residents have been negatively affected by high-speed winds and advised Haymana residents to stay inside until weather conditions improve.

A fire, the cause of which is still unknown, started in the Polatlı Dump Site in Ankara and spread quickly, almost covering the entire area. However, firefighters responded immediately, bringing the fire under control. Five people suffered from smoke inhalation and were taken to Duatepe State Hospital. Patients Ali Rıza Satılmış, Murat Congel, Mustafa Körpe and Murat Dal were reported to be fine, but Mustafa Congel remains in critical condition.

The Ankara Fire Services told the press that it had received almost 100 calls at noon on Thursday, many of which were to report roofs being damaged, felled trees blocking roads or signs damaged by strong gusts. In a statement made by the head office of natural gas distributor Başkent Doğalgaz on Thursday, Ankara residents were warned to turn off their gas before going to sleep to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. People were also advised to check for possible gas leaks in their homes.

A forest fire that broke out in the Safranbolu district of the northern province of Karabük on Wednesday forced local authorities to evacuate three villages. (Photo: AA)

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