How I Survived a Forest Fire in Turkey

Super extreme heat and very low precipitation caused a number of forest fires in Turkey along the Mediterranean coast in the summer 2016. W...

Super extreme heat and very low precipitation caused a number of forest fires in Turkey along the Mediterranean coast in the summer 2016. When we hear about things like that in the news, we tend to empathize those who are affected, but, trust me, it's a completely different experience when you and your family are personally impacted by a natural disaster.

For at least a week, daytime temperatures reached +45 C / 113 F and higher which by itself is very dangerous as chances to get a heat stroke increase exponentially. 
No one knows for sure what or who started the fire, but it could have easily started by itself, as the soil was too hot and grass was too dry. I was feeling a little bit terrified seeing this picture from the balcony of our room. 
Hotel staff tried to assure us that emergency services would be able to put out the fire soon with help of helicopters and fire trucks. But, in a worst case scenario, they would be able to evacuate us with a boat. But what about a car I rented at the airport?
I decided to take a closer look at what was going on as long as it's safe. So I took my camera with me and headed toward Olympos, the village next to ours. The air smelled like a smoked fish. People on the beach were unusually quiet. The fire was literally beyond the closest mountain. 
Strong wind was helping spread the fire. 
People in Olympos were forced to evacuate. The only road which connected Olympos with the rest of the world was already closed, so people had to walk on the beach with all their luggage to reach our village Cirali. Olympos is known as a backpacker paradise with tree houses and low-cost hostels, so the majority of people did not have cars. As I was walking in the opposite direction, some people even asked me if there is a chance to find a hotel room in Cirali. "Of course!" as there were plenty of vacancies in Cirali due to safety concerns.  
Emergency officers were making sure no one left in the village.
This outfitter took their kayaks off the shore.
Someone decided to hide kayaks in the rocks on the beach hoping that fire would not spread that far. 
I felt a bit unnerving when I saw ducks staying right on the beach as far away from the trees and grass as possible. Animals are usually very good to sense upcoming natural disasters. 
This fellow did not seem too worried after having his beer.
I counted 5 firefighting helicopters and 1 amphibious plane that were putting out the fire with water. 
Helicopters had buckets they filled by submerging them into the water next to the beach.
They carried buckets for maybe 2-3 minutes and released them above the fire. So the full cycle, i.e. filling the bucket, getting above the fire, releasing the water and coming back to the sea would take a helicopter about 5-7 minutes. 
Ruins of the old Greek town of Olympos.
As you might have anticipated, the story ended successfully as the fire was put out in 2 days. I'd like to thank pilots for their hard work as they were working until the sunset, and some of them were finishing the work the next day. Luckily, there were no fatalities or significant damage to the residential property in Olympos. And our village Cirali did not have to evacuate at all.  
In the whole situation, there was one thing which I even admired - the fire in the mountains glowing orange in dark. It was sinister yet beautiful. 

My other posts from the Trip to Turkey

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