Thousands evacuated after South Korea's wildfire

At least one person dead and more than 4,000 forced to flee after fire broke out on Thursday night.

    Thousands evacuated after South Korea's wildfire
    Around 872 fire trucks and 3,251 firefighters from all over the country were working to contain the wildfire [Reuters]

    Thousands of firefighters and soldiers are starting to contain wildfires in South Korea which has killed one person and forced more than 4,000 people to flee their homes.

    The fires broke out in eastern Gangwon Province on Thursday evening from a transformer spark near a resort, according to Choi Jin-ho, a fire captain at Gangwon Fire Headquarters. The fire then spread to the cities of Sokcho and Gangneung, burning about 525 hectares and around 198 homes, warehouses and other buildings by early Friday, the government said.

    About 2,263 people have been evacuated to gymnasiums and schools by early Friday, down from about 4,230 citizens earlier, and 52 schools were closed due to the fires.

    The fire in the Sokcho region has been contained, the government said, while about 50 percent of the fire in the Gangneung region has been contained.

    Around 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 almost 16,500 soldiers, 32 military helicopters and 26 military firetrucks have been deployed as well, and there are plans to provide meals for 6,800 people.

    Videos posted to social media in South Korea showed tall flames rising from large areas of forest, the air filled with embers and debris as cars drove by the raging fire.

    News photos showed a burned-out bus, fire engulfing a hill, and residents evacuating apartment complexes and filing into gyms.

    The region is close to the border with North Korea. South Korea's Unification Ministry said Friday it plans to inform North Korea of details about the forest fires.

    Another Gangwon fire official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules, said at least 11 people were being treated for injuries.

    SOURCE: News agencies