|Firefighting teams completely took control Tuesday of the fire in Manavgat town of the southern province of Antalya, now in its sixth day, the Forestry Director General said. (UPDATED)
The fire, which broke out in Manavgat on July 31, was brought under control, and cooling efforts were underway, Osman Kahveci told the Anatolian Agency. The fire destroyed about 4,000-4,500 hectares of forest land in Antalya, he added.
Turkey's biggest-ever forest fire caused more than $1 billion of damage in the past week, Hurriyet daily said. It burned 2.5 million trees, Hurriyet reported, citing government officials.
Two people were killed in the fire. It destroyed at least 60 houses, dozens of farming buildings, a school and a mosque in Manavgat and Serik towns. Six villages were evacuated.
"The fire caused damage in the region as if an atomic bomb had hit," Forestry Deputy Director General Mustafa Kurtulmuslu said Tuesday in a statement carried by the Anatolian Agency.
NATIONAL FIRE FLEET
Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu confirmed later on Tuesday the forest fires that broke out in many regions throughout Turkey were extinguished totally.
Eroglu said 1,300 fire-fighters and 150 expert engineers attended efforts to contain the fires.
"It is so hard to put out fires in 40-45 degrees Celsius temperatures. The loss could be higher if it had happened in another country. The workers have sworn not to give up till all the fires are contained," he was quoted by the Anatolian Agency as saying.
He also said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ordered Forestry Management to establish a national fire fleet to combat fires. "A fully equipped fire extinguisher plane costs $30-40 million. The fleet can be established in 5-6 years by purchasing 3-4 planes a year," he said.
A total of 200,000 YTL ($173,000) in aid would be sent to the Governorship of Antalya to meet the losses of citizens due to the fire, Turkish Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek said. Turkey plans to purchase new equipment, including planes and helicopters, for greater effectiveness in fighting fires, he added.
Erdogan is due to visit Antalya to inspect the affected area on Tuesday.