South Korean wildfire forces 500 residents to evacuate, rain helps fight flames


Firefighters watching as a helicopter douses a wildfire on Mount Inwang in Seoul.

More than 500 people evacuated from their homes in South Korea’s eastern coastal city of Gangneung as strong winds fanned a wildfire on Tuesday, officials said. Fears of a further spread eased as rain helped firefighters battle the blaze.

The fire, which started at around 23:30 GMT on Monday in Gangneung, was mostly extinguished by the afternoon, after consuming 170ha of land and prompting the evacuation of some 550 residents in the city of more than 200 000 people, the Korea Forest Service said.

The fire injured three people, including two firefighters, and destroyed dozens of buildings, the national forestry agency said.

The fire appears to have started after strong winds blew a tree over onto live overhead power cables, igniting flames, officials said.

Firefighting crews struggled to put out the fast-moving blaze due to strong winds, but rain eased it by the afternoon.

Photos and footage circulating on social media showed fires razing forests and fields, and buildings engulfed by smoke.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol had ordered officials to mobilise all available resources to put out the fire as soon as possible and quickly evacuate nearby residents to minimise casualties, his office said.


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