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Chernobyl wildfire scorches past exclusion zone, arson suspected

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By Anastassia Gliadkovskaya
Chernobyl wildfire scorches past exclusion zone, arson suspected

Firefighters are working to extinguish a wildfire that scorched through Chernobyl’s exclusion zone this week. Radiation levels in Kyiv and Chernobyl were deemed "safe" by zone administrators.

The fire began on Tuesday morning in dry grass less than 10 kilometres from the abandoned power plant and spread over 12 hectares of forest, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said in a statement.

DSNS Press Service Ukraine

A reactor fire at the Chernobyl power plant in April 1986 led to the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

By Wednesday, the fire had been contained to 2 hectares. As of Thursday morning, the fire remained localised to less than one hectare, according to the State Emergency Service.

Head of State Emergency Service Nikolay Chechetkin said torches were found at the scene on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, the theory of deliberate arson as the cause of the fire was unconfirmed, Chechetkin told Interfax-Ukraine.

The National Police have opened a criminal proceeding under the article of “destruction or damage to forest areas,” and are still investigating.