SEOUL – A massive fire has ripped through around 500 hectares of forest and urban areas along the northeastern coast of South Korea, killing at least one person and injuring several others, apart from damaging hundreds of buildings and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people, local news agency Yonhap reported on Friday.
The South Korean government has declared the fire – which has spread over one fourth area of the eastern coast and affected four different counties – a national disaster due to its massive scale.
The fire reportedly started in a transformer alongside a road in the Goseong county – situated around 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Seoul near the North Korean border – and rapidly spread southward to forests due to southerly winds, according to firefighters in the Gangwon province.
The police have found the corpse of a man, who apparently died in the fire, which left 35 people injured while more than 4,000 have been evacuated.
The fire has destroyed around 500 hectares of forest land and around 200 houses in the counties of Goseong, Sokcho, Gangneung and Donghae, which is situated around 100 kilometers south of the location of the initial outbreak.
More than 870 teams from all over the country, consisting of around 16,000 firefighters and personnel from different military units, have been deployed in the area to try and extinguish the fire, a task which has been made difficult due to strong winds and a lack of humidity in the air.
Roads and railways in the area have been shut and 52 schools and other public facilities have been closed.
The interior ministry said that as of 12 pm, most of the fire had been brought under control in the northern side, while it had been contained in more than 50 percent of the area in the southern end.
South Korea had earlier declared states of disaster in 2005 due to a massive wildfire in Yangyang in the same province, and in 2007 after the country’s worst oil spill from a tanker off the western coast of Taean.