Firefighters battle forest blazes in Chernobyl exclusion zone

Minsk, Belarus: Ukrainian firefighters spent the weekend trying to put out two forest blazes in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power station, which was evacuated because of radioactive contamination after the 1986 explosion at the plant.

A Geiger counter shows increased radiation level against the background of the forest fire burning near the village of Volodymyrivka in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine.Credit:AP

Ukraine's emergencies service said one of the fires, covering about five hectares, had been localised. It said the other fire was about 20 hectares. Earlier on Sunday, the head of the state ecological inspection service, Yehor Firsov, said the fires had spread to about 100 hectares. The discrepancy in sizes could not immediately be resolved.

Firsov said radiation levels at the fire were substantially higher than normal. But the emergencies service said radiation levels in the capital of Kyiv, about 100 kilometres south, were within norms.

A view of a forest fire burning in the Chernobyl nuclear exclusion zone.Credit:AP

The fires were within the 2600-square-kilometre Chernobyl Exclusion Zone established after the 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe. The zone is largely unpopulated, although about 200 people have remained despite orders to leave.


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