D.he Turkey is fighting the worst forest fires in its history, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The head of state said this in a TV interview on Wednesday evening. In the forest fire areas near the west coast, the flames caught a coal-fired power station. “The flames have spread to the site of the power plant,” tweeted the mayor of Milas, Muhammet Tokat. The power plant had been completely cleared.
Environmental activists warned the coal supplies could ignite and release toxic gases. The Demiroren news agency reported that tanks with flammable liquids on the power plant site had been emptied as a precaution.
Fanned by high temperatures and dry, strong winds, the fires in the tourist region have forced thousands of Turks and holidaymakers to leave their homes or hotels. Eight people have died so far. The fires broke out over a week ago, 16 had not yet been extinguished on Wednesday, according to government information.
Ancient Olympia in Greece endangered
On the island of Evia, north of the Greek capital Athens, a fire got out of control, destroyed several villages and threatened a monastery. The well-known ancient village of Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula was also threatened by a new fire.
Numerous villages on Evia were affected. The mayor of a nearby town, Argyris Liaskos, spoke of “at least 150 houses burned” on television. According to local media reports, three monks refused to leave the Saint David’s monastery in the north of the island. “The flames are 30 to 40 meters high and have surrounded the monastery,” said one of the monks by phone to the Greek news agency ANA. “We almost suffocate because of the smoke.” In the evening, according to the agency, the monks were brought to safety.