A wildfire in Ukraine has burned to within three kilometres of the containment structure that covers the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, site of one of the world’s worst-ever nuclear disasters when it exploded in 1986.
The initial blaze near Chernobyl drove radiation levels 16 times above normal, The Guardian reports, but officials said there was no increase in the suburbs of Kyiv, 60 kilometres away.
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“You don’t have to be afraid of opening your windows and airing out your home during the [coronavirus] quarantine,” an official wrote on Facebook.
Based on satellite images, Wildfire Today estimated the size of the fire at about 7,000 hectares/17,300 acres as of Friday morning.
“Firefighters said they had managed to put out the smaller of two forest fires that began at the weekend, apparently after someone began a grass fire, and had deployed more than 100 firefighters backed by planes and helicopters to extinguish the remaining blaze,” The Guardian says. “Police have arrested a suspect believed to have caused the blaze, a 27-year-old man from the area who reportedly told police he had set grass and rubbish on fire in three places ‘for fun’. After he had lit the fires, he said, the wind had picked up and he had been unable to extinguish them.”