Ukraine continues to battle forest fire near Chernobyl

  • Ukraine continues to battle forest fire near Chernobyl

Ukraine continues to battle forest fire near Chernobyl

A forest fire is burning in the evacuated area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and is causing elevated radiation levels, authorities said Sunday.

Fire and safety crews were said to be inspecting the area overnight on April 4-5 to eliminate any threat from sites where there was still smoldering.

"There is bad news: radioactivity is higher than normal at the heart of the blaze", the head of the country's environmental inspection service, Yehor Firsov, said on Facebook.

The presence made fighting the fire more hard, officials said, but insisted there is no danger to population centers.

Radioactive radiation from the accident is still present in the 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) exclusion zone that was set up around the site.

The emergency services say that 124 firefighters have been involved in tackling the larger fire in Kotovsky Forest near the village of Volodymyrivka. But the emergencies service said radiation levels in the capital of Kyiv, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south, were within norms. However, fires continue to be a common occurrence in the forests near the disaster area.

A helicopter and two water-carrying aircraft were also called upon to help battle the fire.

Dozens of people in Ukraine died in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, and thousands more have since died from its effects, mainly exposure to radiation. They have, however, ensured that the 200-odd people who reside in the area despite orders urging them to leave are not in danger.

A second massive protective shelter over the contaminated reactor was completed in 2016 in hopes of preventing further radiation leaks and setting the stage for the eventual dismantling of the structure.