South Korea issues crisis alert over wildfire near LNG production base

The fire broke out on Friday in Uljin province

Thousands of people fled their homes in South Korea's Uljin province on Friday after a wildfire broke out close to a liquified natural gas facility.

As of Friday evening, about 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze in strong winds and focusing their efforts on preventing it from reaching the Hosan-ri liquefied natural gas production site in Gangwon-do, near the city of Samcheok.

Almost 4,000 residents were evacuated from nine villages in the area, although all but 161 had returned as of Friday evening, Yonhap news agency reported. The blaze has caused no casualties so far.

South Korea President Moon Jae-in ordered an all-out effort to protect the Hanul Nuclear Power Plant from the wildfire that broke out in the eastern coastal county of Uljin.

The government issued a natural disaster alert in the county of Uljin on Friday, where the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company operates six nuclear-pressurised water reactors.

Output for one of the six reactors was reduced on Friday afternoon because of unstable weather, its website showed.

Five reactors are currently in operation while one is undergoing maintenance. All five have been reduced to 50 per cent capacity.

The authorities have not said how far the fires are from the plant.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum in a separate statement said local firefighters will co-operate with the defence ministry and the forestry agency to put out wildfires that are reportedly moving along the country's east coast towards Gangwon province.

By late Friday the fires had destroyed12 residential properties and three storage units, Yonhap reported.

Updated: March 05, 2022, 8:38 AM