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Forest fires in southwestern Turkey enter their third day

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Firefighters sought to contain a wildfire in southwestern Turkey from land and air on Friday as the blaze raged for a third day, with windy conditions fanning the flames and spreading them across a wooded area.

Scenes of burning wood near the Aegean resort of Marmaris have raised fears of a repeat of last year’s fires which devastated some 140,000 hectares (345,950 acres) in the region.

Reuters footage showed smoke billowing from the hills as the blaze spread through woods in the sparsely populated area, helicopters and planes dropping water on the flames throughout the daytime.

Police assisted firefighters with water cannon vehicles as they sought to put out the blaze which broke out around 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Tuesday and affected more than 3,400 hectares of land.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said one person was arrested and he admitted to burning the forest out of frustration over family issues.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Thursday evening that 29 people had been affected by the fire, two of whom are still being treated in hospital.

Some 274 people were evacuated as a precaution, officials said.

Human-induced climate change is making heat waves more likely and more severe, scientists say.

Last summer’s wildfires, most of which also occurred near Marmaris, were the most intense on record in Turkey, a European Union atmosphere monitor said last year, adding that the Mediterranean had become a hotspot for forest fires.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been criticized for being unprepared to fight fires last year, including a lack of planes and helicopters. He responded by saying the wildfires were the worst in Turkey’s history.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on Wednesday that the government was “incompetent” and had not prepared for the fires since last year.

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