Ukrainian forest fires close Chernobyl


MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Ukrainian firefighters worked on Sunday night trying to expose two forest blazes around the Chernobyl nuclear power station, which was evacuated due to radioactive contamination after the plant explosion in 1986.

Ukraine's emergency service said one of the five hectares (12 acres) fires was located. It said the other fire was about 20 hectares. Earlier Sunday, state ecological inspection service head Yehor Firsov said the fires spread to about 100 hectares. The size gap couldn't be resolved immediately.

Firsov said fire radiation levels were considerably higher than normal. But the emergency service said radiation levels in Kyiv's capital, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south, were within norms.

The fires were withinthe 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) Chernobyl Exclusion Zone formed at the plant after the 1986 disaster that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout across much of Europe. The zone is largely unpopulated, though, despite orders to leave, about 200 people remained.


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