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10,000 Flee Turkey Wildfires; Greece Power Grid Threatened

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People run away from an advancing fire in Cokertme village, in Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey, Aug. 2, 2021.

Over 10,000 people have been evacuated from the Turkish province of Mugla to escape the deadly wildfires ravaging Turkey, according to a statement on Monday from Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

The result of a record-breaking heat wave covering much of southeastern Europe, wildfires have sprung up across Turkey, Italy and Greece, even threatening the latter country's national power grid.

Firefighters from the European Union arrived Monday in Turkey, where they joined local volunteers fighting fires along the coastline for the sixth day in a row. The fires have caused the deaths of eight people in recent days, though there were no reports of additional deaths Monday. Hundreds more have been injured by the flames and toxic smoke.

Opposition politicians in Turkey are criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what they say is a sluggish and out-of-touch response to the fires.

Erdogan's government does not own any firefighting planes and has had to rely on planes sent by members of the EU.

"We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation's wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities even better than before," said Erdogan in a Twitter statement regarding the fires.

In this photo released by the Italian Firefighters, a view of a violent wildfire that burned the historical pinewood in Pescara, central Italy, Aug. 1, 2021.
In this photo released by the Italian Firefighters, a view of a violent wildfire that burned the historical pinewood in Pescara, central Italy, Aug. 1, 2021.

Italian firefighters are using helicopters to fight fires along Italy's Adriatic coast and Sicily region. Italy's National Fire Corps (Vigili del Fuoco) reported that air tankers from Canada helped fight more than 715 flare-ups in the past 24 hours.

The Associated Press reported that in Greece, where temperatures had reached 45 C (113 F) inland, workers with health conditions were allowed to take time off work. Also, coal-fired power stations slated for retirement were brought back into service to shore up the electrical grid, which is under pressure because of the widespread use of air conditioning.

Greek firefighters on Monday fought local fires on the Greek island of Rhodes and in the city of Patras.

A Ch-47D Chinook helicopter descends near a paddleboarder as it fills up with water while firefighting near Lambiri Beach at Patras, August 1, 2021.
A Ch-47D Chinook helicopter descends near a paddleboarder as it fills up with water while firefighting near Lambiri Beach at Patras, August 1, 2021.

Four Greek villages were evacuated Saturday, and roughly 800 Italians and tourists had to leave their homes on Sunday to escape the fires.

EU data shows this year's fire season has been significantly more destructive than most, with experts saying that climate change is increasing both the frequency and intensity of such blazes.

University of Bristol professor of climate science Dann Mitchell told the AP that the heat wave in southeast Europe "is not at all unexpected, and very likely enhanced due to human-induced climate change."

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.

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