As forest fires, raging for weeks in the east and south eastern regions of Turkey continue especially in the Dersim region, locals have reacted to the authorities ignoring their repeated calls.
The latest example came from Bitlis, the Kurdish populated historic province of SE Turkey. The forest fire, which has been raging in Bitlis for 4 days has reportedly finally been brought under control in the Ava Weqfê region with the intervention of teams of volunteers and locals.
The fire reached the village of Hormuz in Mutki district and was brought under control by the mobilisation of local people who prevented the fire from reaching the village. “The state authorities ignored the fires”, Bitlis residents said, adding that state vehicles only appeared in the area three days after local people had brought the fire under control themselves.
Muhsin Yasak was one of them. “There was nobody until one day ago, and then only local people intervened with their own efforts but there was a strong wind, that spread the fire and these people had to make an escape. Maybe more than 200 acres has burned up to now.” he says.
Another local, Cahit Balin thinks that if the fire bridgade had arrived much earlier, the fire would not have spread that much.
“At the beginning there was nothing, I mean, we managed to take control of the fire, but then the next day, around 10:00 a.m., we looked again, and there was fire again, the fire brigade didn’t come and the fire spread. Only much later did two fire engines arrive to try and help us.”
Mehmet Balin, on the other hand said he called the Regional Forestry Directorate several times when the fire started but they did not receive any response to their frantic calls.
“I called them many times, but they did not show up. Here it is all burned… We managed to control the fire in some parts of the forest but then the wind picked up and the fire spread again. Now, the trees on my land, my vineyards, my walnut trees all have burned, if they had have came here it would not of happened.”
Meanwhile the fire with the help of a strong wind has reached the foothills of Mount Boz and is still spreading.