Wildfire triggers mass evacuation in South Korea

(ORDO NEWS) — A wildfire in South Korea’s eastern coastal region forced the evacuation of more than 6,000 people. The fire temporarily threatened the nuclear power plant, and the President raised the alarm.

Thousands of South Korean firefighters and troops worked Saturday to put out a large wildfire that has spread to more than 6,000 hectares (nearly 15,000 acres) since it started on a mountain on the country’s east coast.

At one stage, the fire threatened to engulf a nuclear power plant and South Korea’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, but firefighters got the fire under control before it reached the facilities, according to officials cited by the Yonhap news agency.

At least 159 homes and 46 other buildings were destroyed and about 6,200 people were evacuated from the affected region, according to The Associated Press.

There were no reports of injured or dead.

How did the fire develop?

The fire started Friday morning on a mountain in the coastal city of Uljin, about 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of the capital Seoul, before winds carried it north to the nearby city of Samcheok.

The fire prompted President Moon Jae-in to issue an alert on Friday afternoon as flames engulfed the vicinity of the Hanul nuclear power plant in Uljin.

The alarm was lifted after firefighters successfully prevented the fire from spreading to the facility.

The cause of the fire, which has grown rapidly amid strong winds and dry conditions, is being investigated by officials, the Interior and Security Ministry said.

Yonhap quoted KFS chief Choi Byong-am as saying that firefighters intend to “have all the flames under control by sundown.”

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