Azerbaijan helps Turkey contain massive wildfires

Azerbaijan is one of the countries responding to the ongoing forest fires in Turkey. Hundreds of firefighters, equipment and transport have been sent to Turkey from Azerbaijan in the past few days.

Since July 30, an amphibious aircraft, a helicopter, 93 fire trucks, special fire fighting equipment, an ambulance and 510 firefighters from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations have been dispatched to Turkey. The ministry’s amphibious aircraft is supporting operations against the forest fires that have raged in dozens of Turkish provinces since July 28.

Azerbaijani firefighters are deployed mainly in the Mughla and Denizli regions. An Azerbaijani brigade joined forces with Turkish firefighters on Thursday to extinguish the fire at the Kamarkoy thermal power plant in Mughla. The operation prevented the adjacent Yenikoy thermal power plant from being affected by forest fires.

In view of the strategic role of Kamarkoy and Yenikoy thermal power plants in supplying power to Mughla, the facilities were placed under the protection of Azerbaijani firefighters. Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Emergency Situations Lt. Gen. Etibar Mirzayev discussed measures with local officials that would ensure reliable fire protection at the stations.

President Ilham Aliyev expressed the support and solidarity of the Azerbaijani people and government to Turkey in a letter to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also expressed support for Turkey in video footage of Ankara’s efforts to tackle the week-long forest fires.

In a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on August 6, President Aliyev suggested sending 200 more firefighters, bringing the number of firefighters in Azerbaijan to 710.

Turkey has been fighting massive forest fires since July 28. Some 187 forest fires raging from southwestern Mughla district to south-central 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 has confirmed nine deaths from the fires.

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

Currently, fires are still raging in some districts of Antalya, Mughla, Denizli and Hatay regions. Firefighting efforts are thwarted by strong winds and high temperatures, which spread forest fires. An all-time high of 45.5 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) in weather temperature was recorded in Mughla this week.

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

Previously, members of a branch of the terrorist organization PKK, known as the “Children of Fire”, claimed responsibility for the forest fires in Turkey and threatened the Turkish government with further forest fires.

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