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Azerbaijan Helps Turkey Contain Massive Wildfires

By Mushvig Mehdiyev August 6, 2021

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A fireman from Azerbaijan extinguishes fire in the forests of Mughla, Turkey, August 5, 2021 / Fhn.Gov.Az

Azerbaijan is one of the countries responding to the ongoing wildfires in Turkey. Hundreds of firefighters, equipment and transport have been dispatched to Turkey from Azerbaijan over the last several days.

Since July 30, an amphibious plane, a chopper, 93 fire trucks, special firefighting equipment, an ambulance and 510 firefighters of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Azerbaijan have been dispatched to Turkey. The ministry’s amphibious plane has been supporting the operations against the wildfires that have been raging across tens of Turkish provinces since July 28.

Azerbaijani firefighters are deployed mainly in the Mughla and Denizli regions. A brigade from Azerbaijan teamed up with the Turkish firemen on Thursday to extinguish the fire in the Kamarkoy thermal power plant in Mughla. The operation prevented the adjacent Yenikoy thermal power station from being affected by the forest fires.  

Given the strategic role of both Kamarkoy and Yenikoy thermal power plants in Mughla’s power supply, the facilities were taken under protection by the Azerbaijani firefighters. Deputy Minister of Azerbaijan’s Emergency Situations Ministry, Lieutenant-General Etibar Mirzayev deliberated with local officials the measures that would ensure reliable fire protection of the stations.

President Ilham Aliyev expressed the support and solidarity of the people and the government of Azerbaijan to Turkey in a letter to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan has also voiced support to Turkey in video footage dedicated to Ankara’s efforts aimed at curbing the week-long wildfires.

In a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on August 6, President Aliyev suggested sending additional 200 firefighters, thus increasing the number of firefighters from Azerbaijan to 710.

Turkey has been fighting massive forest fires since July 28. Some 187 wildfires raging from southwestern Mughla district through central-southern Adana province have broken out so far. As of Thursday, 172 of them had been contained, the Turkish government confirmed. The country’s Health Ministry confirmed nine deaths from the fires.

Thousands of firefighters, volunteers, and aerial firefighting equipment, including helicopters and water bomber planes, have been working to extinguish the fires. According to Turkish officials, currently, 21 amphibious aircraft, including one from Azerbaijan, three from Russia, two from Spain, and three from the European Commission, are operating to put out the blazes. Ukraine, Iran and Qatar have also sent personnel and equipment to help Turkey reinforce the operations against wildfires.

Currently, the fires are still raging in some districts of the regions of Antalya, Mughla, Denizli and Hatay. The firefighting efforts are being countered by strong wind and hot temperature, which are spreading the wildfires. An all-time record of 45.5 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) of weather temperature has been recorded in Mughla this week.

While President Erdogan drew parallels between the Covid-19 pandemic and wildfires, calling them “a global threat,” he has also pointed at possible reasons for forest fires in Turkey, including eco-terrorism. According to him, the Turkish police and intelligence have been investigating the links between terror groups and wildfires.

Earlier, members of an affiliate of the PKK terrorist organization, known as the “Children of Fire,” claimed the responsibility for forest fires in Turkey and threatened the Turkish government with more wildfires.