Demirciler/Bucak, Turkey, Aug 13 (EFE).- For 10 days, Turkey’s worst-ever wildfire wreaked havoc in Antalya, a province along the country’s idyllic southern coast.
Before firefighters could bring the blaze under control — thanks to the relief brought by torrential rainfall on Aug. 7 —, it had destroyed some 60,000 hectares of forest, nearly 60 villages or neighborhoods, and hundreds of homes, killing seven people and injuring over 100 more. The fires also claimed the lives of over 30,000 farm animals.
“This place was like heaven,” Fatma Sari, who lives in the village of Demirciler with her daughter, tells epa-efe. “What will I look at when I look out of my window now?”
Demirciler was among the hardest hit in the area, with around 20 homes razed to the ground.
Many in Turkey have accused the government of inadequately responding to the disaster.
“There were no fire trucks. I tried to put out the blaze in the house myself with water bottles,” says the imam of the village, Ahmet Yilmaz.
“The fire came so fast that we did not understand what was happening”.
Eventually, the heavy rains came to the rescue, finally extinguishing the deadly flames. Amid the ash, rubble of homes and charred possessions, the men and women of the region are still in shock as they try to salvage what remains of their lives before the blaze.
In Bucak, another Antalya village hit by the disaster, about 19 houses were completely burnt down. Many of them were demolished by state officials because they were deemed unsafe.
Fatma Gullu, whose home was destroyed in the fire, now lives with her mother Cemile Gullu. They used to make a living raising poultry, but half of their chickens perished. “If they had not evacuated us, we would have died here. I’ve seen many fires, but I’ve never seen one like this. Our chickens perished, dozens of olive and pomegranate trees and vegetable gardens were destroyed,” Cemile Gullu says.