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Fire breaks out in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone forests

One helicopter and two planes have been dispatched to the site to tackle the blaze

Friday 30 June 2017 15:01 BST
The abandoned city of Pripyat, near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine
The abandoned city of Pripyat, near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine (Reuters)

A fire has broken out in the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

A pair of planes and a helicopter had been dispatched to tackle the blaze, which erupted during tree cutting works, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said.

The were joined by at least 100 firefighters and 22 fire engines on the ground.

“In the exclusion and obligatory evacuation zone at the territory of Lubyanskoye Forestry, tree residue and the forest bed have caught fire," the State Emergency Service said in a statement. "The fire spread out to an area of some 20 hectares."

A helicopter is being used with a water spraying device as the fire has currently engulfed 25 hectares of land, according to RT.

This is not the first wildfire to break out near the Chernobyl nuclear power station.

In 2015, several forest fires erupted in the exclusion zone with one in particular covering almost 400 hectares of forests.

Fires in nuclear-contaminated zones can have serious ramifications as radioactive particles in trees and plants can be released once burned down.

There have been warnings that the fires in Chernobyl’s forests could lead to higher cancer rates.

The meltdown in the early hours of 26 April 1986 was the worst nuclear disaster in history.

One of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station exploded, blowing the roof off the Soviet plant and spewing out a cloud of radioactive material which drifted into other parts of the USSR, including Russia and Belarus, and northern Europe.

Contamination is still a problem, however, and disputes continue about how many will eventually die.

However, scientists have been surprised by the dramatic revival of its wildlife.

Wild horse, boar and wolf populations are thriving, while lynx have returned to the area and birds have nested in the reactor building without any obvious ill-effects.

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