Published on : Tuesday, April 7, 2020
A radioactive forest within Chernobyl’s exclusion zone has caught fire yesterday, triggering a spike in local radiation levels. There were around 90 firefighters deployed to fight the blaze, which a Ukrainian official said had spread over almost 250 acres, 50 of which were within the restricted area around the disused nuclear power plant.
Ukraine’s ecological inspection service chief wrote that Firefighters continue to fight the fire that originated in the Chernobyl zone and the situation becomes more difficult.
The emergencies service in Ukraine said one of the fires, covering about 12 acres, had been localised. It said the other fire was about 50 acres.
The discrepancy in sizes could not immediately be resolved. The radiation levels were above normal in the centre of the fire, Mr Firsov said, adding it was “bad news”. But the emergencies service said radiation levels in the capital of Kyiv, about 60 miles south, were within normal levels.
The fires were within the 1,000-square-mile 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.
The fires are relatively common in the forests surrounding the former nuclear plant. Mr Firsov said the latest blaze was likely caused by people setting fire to nearby grass, which then spread to trees.