Roaring blazes encircled a Turkish thermal power station on Tuesday and made farmers herd panicked cattle toward the ocean, as wildfires that have killed eight people raged for a seventh day.
The nation of 84 million has been transfixed in horror because the most destructive wildfires in generations erase pristine forests and rich farmland across swaths of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
Tourists are forced to flee on boats for safety and dozens of villages are evacuated as wild winds and soaring heat fan the flames.
Eyewitnesses said they saw farmers pulling their screaming animals out of burning barns and shepherding them to the relative safety of the beach within the Aegean city of Hisaronu.
“The fire happened in a moment,” local farmer Mevlut Tarim said after managing to tug a number of his panicked herd through pitch-black smoke and patches of burning turf encircling his farm.
“One of my cows died. It burned,” he added. “I had never seen anything love it. You can’t even call it a fireplace. it had been adoring a bomb.”
Officials in neighboring Greece have blamed two blazes on the island of Rhodes and therefore the Peloponnese peninsula on a record heatwave they link to global climate change.
Hundreds of firefighters, water-bombing planes, and helicopters were battling forest fires near Athens, that has already forced the evacuation of villages and closed a neighborhood of the most motorway there.
In the south and central Albania, a wave sparked dozens of forest fires over the last week, with the primary death reported on Tuesday.
A 64-year-old man died and his wife was seriously injured once they were trapped by a fire around their range in the southern region of Gjirokastra, near the Greek border, said police.
Power station threatened
Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius across the south of Turkey have departed a record surge in electricity use that caused power outages on Monday in cities like Ankara and Istanbul.
But Muhammet Tokat, mayor of the Aegean coastal city of Milas, said he was more worried about an uncontrolled fire threatening the local thermal power station.
Tokat posted an increasingly urgent series of tweets showing the blazes spreading up a hill toward the presumed location of the plant.
He later reported briefing Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on the unfolding crisis before sheltering with other local officials by the beach.
Tokat may be a member of Turkey’s main opposition party and one among a growing chorus of voices critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the disaster.
Erdogan came certain a torrent of abuse and mock on social media for tossing out bags of tea to confused locals while visiting the affected region under heavy police escort last weekend.