Firefighters Contain New Wildfire in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Ukrainian firefighters have contained a new wildfire in the restricted access area around the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant, unian.net reported on Sunday.
Dry grass and brushes were burning at three separate locations affecting a total area of 32 hectares before the firefighters managed to prevent the spreading of the blaze.
As of Sunday morning the fire has been contained, according to the Ukrainian news outlet. Chernobyl is located some 100 km from the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
No increase in radioactivity levels in the area has been reported.
Arson has been the predominant reason for the wildfires in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl, according to the chairman of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service Nikolay Chechetkin.
Chechetkin said last month that arson has been the reason for 70% of the 56 blazes extinguished in the restricted area around Chernobyl since the beginning of 2015.
Some 130 hectares of dry grass and reed in the area were engulfed by flames on 29 July. Firefighters found two torches nearby indicating the vegetation had been delibaretaly set on fire, according to Chechetkin.
The area around Chernobyl was evacuated after the 1986 blast and the last reactor there was shut down in 2000 but some personnel still operate in the exclusion zone, where work is underway to build a new seal over the reactor site.
Forest fires in the exclusion zone around the closed nuclear plant are potentially dangerous as they are causing radioactive caesium in the soil around the nuclear plant to be released into the atmosphere as smoke, according to a recent research by New Scientist.
As part of the research, experts had modelled how fires in the region will peak between 2023 and 2036 as the area becomes drier as a result of climate change, according to predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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