New wildfires in area round Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Three new wildfires have started in the radiation-contaminated evacuation zone around Ukraine’s wrecked Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident 34 years ago, emergency officials said Thursday.

A statement from the Emergencies Ministry said the fires were small and posed no threat to facilities holding radioactive waste. The statement did give an area for the fires or say how they started, but said they were being fanned by gusty winds.

Firefighters battled large blazes in the area for 10 days this month before reporting Tuesday that they had been extinguished.

The fires are in the 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that was established after the 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe.

The zone is largely unpopulated, although about 200 people have remained despite orders to leave. Fires in the area raise concerns that they could spread radioactive material.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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