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Turkey wildfires: power plant evacuated as fierce blaze closes in

ANKARA, Turkey: A power plant in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province has been evacuated after a wildfire reached its edge.

A blaze reached the perimeter of the Kemerkoy Thermal Power Plant in Mugla’s Turkevleri district on Wednesday with efforts to douse the fire being hindered by strong winds in the region.

All personnel have been evacuated from the plant, while flammable and explosive materials have also been removed.

Water tankers and fire trucks have been stationed at the plant in case the fire spreads further towards the main building.

Firefighters and police cars were seen in the area as locals flee the scene after powerful flames engulfed the edges of the power station near the Aegean town of Milas.

Local officials had earlier said that hydrogen tanks used to cool the station had been emptied and filled with water as a precaution. The plant operates using coal and fuel oil.

Images posted by Milas mayor Muhammet Tokat showed a furious blaze raging at the gates of the plant.

The fire reached the plant in the second week of historic wildfires that have killed eight people and destroyed huge swaths of pristine forest across Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was giving a live television interview when the plant’s evacuation began.

“The thermal power plant is facing the threat of burning down,” Erdogan said. “There has been a tremendous wind. Otherwise, it would have been easier to contain.”

Erdogan said that 51 helicopters and 20 planes are engaged in operations to douse forest fires in the country after 187 fires broke out in the last eight days.