Firefighters work to put out flames during a wildfire in Sokcho, South Korea, on Friday. Reuters
SEOUL: Thousands of firefighters and soldiers are starting to contain wildfires in South Korea on Friday which have killed one person and forced more than 4,000 people to flee their homes, the South Korean government said.
The fires broke out in eastern Gangwon Province on Thursday evening and spread to the cities of Sokcho and Gangneung, burning about 525 hectares (1,297 acres) and some 198 homes, warehouses and other buildings by early Friday, the government said.
About 2,263 citizens were evacuted to gymnasiums and schools by early Friday, down from about 4,230 citizens earlier. 52 schools were closed.
The fire in the Sokcho region has been contained, the government said, while about 50 per cent of the fire in the Gangneung region was contained.
President Moon Jae-in has ordered the use of all available resources to extinguish the forest fires, the presidential office said.
Some 872 fire trucks and 3,251 firefighters from all over the country are currently working to contain the wildfire, the National Fire Agency said.
The Ministry of Defense said some 16,500 soldiers, 32 military helicopters and 26 military firetrucks have been deployed as well, and plans to provide meals for 6,800 people.
Some 4 billion won ($3.52 million) in special subsidies will be issued for containing the fires and cleaning up debris, along with 250 million won in disaster relief funds for temporary accomodation and daily necessities for evacuees, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
Some 50,000 people were ordered to flee their homes north of Los Angeles on Thursday as a fast-moving wildfire driven by high winds erupted and raged out of control.
California’s governor declared a statewide emergency on Sunday as a huge blaze, fanned by strong winds, forced mass evacuations and power blackouts as it bore down on towns in the famed Sonoma wine region.
Crews who struggled just days ago against deadly wildfires raging unchecked across California, Oregon and Washington have now taken the offensive, making substantial progress in subduing the blazes, officials in all three states said on Thursday.
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