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Wildfires sweep area the size of 357 soccer fields

Firefighters work to contain a wildfire in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, on Sunday, in this photo provided by the National Fire Agency. (National Fire Agency)
Firefighters work to contain a wildfire in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, on Sunday, in this photo provided by the National Fire Agency. (National Fire Agency)
Forest fires that began in Andong and Yecheon in North Gyeongsang Province on Sunday swept an area the size of 357 soccer fields, fire and local authorities said Monday, as dry weather and strong winds continue.

Over 2,600 personnel including civil servants, expert fire fighters, dozens of helicopters and fire trucks were mobilized as firefighting work resumed early Monday.

No casualties have been reported, but residents in the area were told to evacuate.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, about 30 percent of the fire in Andong and 60 percent in Yecheon and Youngju were extinguished.

Some 225 hectares of forest has been destroyed -- 200 hectares in Andong, 50 hectares in Yecheon and 5 hectares in Youngju, according to local authorities.

The fires that began around 3:20 p.m. on Sunday in a hill in Andong prompted the authorities to raise the fire alert to level 2 and residents in the area were instructed to evacuate.

Authorities in Yecheon country also issued a level 2 fire alert as fires broke out in a hill around 4:12 p.m.

The provincial government of North Gyeongsang has been acting as the control tower for the response since 8:50 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to strong winds, the number of hikers has inched up recently as the weather warmed up, and some farmers have been burning the stubble in their fields as they prepare for planting season.

Forest authorities have advised people to refrain from illegal burning and treating fires near forests.

by Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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