By Mert Ozkan
MANAVGAT, Turkey – When a wildfire spread to his village, Turkish farmer Sercan Bayat shouted at his cows to run from the flames and prayed for his own death rather than witness his animals perish.
Seeing his animals threatened by the inferno — a moment he captured on video – was the most difficult moment in 30-year-old Bayat’s life.
But although he lost eight of his livestock in the blaze, he later found new life in the shape of a newborn goat kid lying helpless, but still breathing, after its mother had died in the fire.
“Two or three hours after the flames were put out, I saw this one on the ground. He is our baby goat now. We called him Miracle,” Bayat said.
“We found another goat amidst the wildfire. She has a baby. There you go. Miracle number two,” Bayat added, as he kissed the baby goats.
He said that although his farm in Manavgat in southern Turkey is severely damaged and he lost some of his animals, he is now “over the moon” at the kids’ survival.
The massive forest fire was one of the approximately 100 fires that officials say broke out this week across southern and western Turkey. Sweltering heat and strong winds fanned the flames. The death toll from the fires rose to six on Saturday, as two firefighting personnel died during efforts to control the blaze in Manavgat. Thousands were evacuated from their homes.
Satellite imagery showed smoke from the fires in Antalya and Mersin was extending to the island of Cyprus, around 150 km (100 miles) away.
Wildfires are common in southern Turkey in the hot summer months, but local authorities say the latest fires have covered a much bigger area.