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Turkey wildfire contained after 4,500 hectares scorched

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A suspected deliberate wildfire is under control after burning 4,500 hectares of forest over three days on Turkey’s southwest coast, the government said on Saturday.

After inspecting the area near the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci praised firefighters who used aircraft to battle the blaze, which started on Tuesday.

Reuters footage showed smoke billowing from hills and police water cannon vehicles helping firefighters as the blaze spread through the woodlands in the sparsely populated area.

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Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday that one suspect had been detained in connection with the blaze, adding the person had admitted to burning down the forest out of frustration due to family issues.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that anyone convicted of starting the blaze could face capital punishment, which was removed from the Turkish Constitution in 2004.

“It needs to be an intimidating punishment, and if that’s a death sentence, it’s a death sentence,” Erdogan said on Friday.

The country’s first big blaze of the summer conjured memories of last year’s fires which ravaged 140,000 hectares (345,950 acres) of countryside, the worst on record.

Local officials had warned in recent days that authorities were unprepared for this summer.

But Kirisci told reporters on Saturday that planes and personnel “have all increased beyond anyone’ simagination” since last year.

He added that 88 percent of forest fires in Turkey were started by humans.

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