Wildfires in southern Turkey | ERDEM SAHIN


The closest I have ever been to the terror of conflagration was in Corsica in the 1980s. The fires on that island were usually inland. The mountains, taller than Mallorca’s, posed great challenges to firefighters. The pilots of the Canadair planes were treated as heroes. Not all of them came back. Hidden by smoke, the biggest danger was from unseen cables. But the fires could reach the coast, as they did one night in Propriano.

Local news was full of reports of pyromaniacs. They were foreigners, either under arrest or being hunted. No Corsican would deliberately set the forests ablaze, not even the FLNC militant organisation. Buildings, infrastructure and French symbols were targets for acts of terrorism; not the natural environment.

In Turkey, wildfires that have claimed several lives are suspected to have been started deliberately by the PKK Kurdish militants or by an offshoot of this terrorist organisation. Environmental destruction is said to be a PKK method, and if the PKK have been responsible, then tourism is unquestionably a further target. As if Turkey’s tourism hasn’t had enough to contend with.

We know all about fires in Mallorca, though major ones, such as that of summer 2013 which was caused by negligence, are mercifully rare.

But this rarity should not create a false sense of security. The risk is increasing along with the rise in heat. Turkey serves as a further warning, but it doesn’t require terrorists to bring about the sheer terror of fire.