The Korea Herald

지나쌤

Strong winds hamper wildfire response in Gangneung

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : April 11, 2023 - 11:51

    • Link copied

A house and a nearby hill in Gangneung, northeastern South Korea, are engulfed by flames on Tuesday, amid high wind and dry weather warnings for east coast areas. (Yonhap) A house and a nearby hill in Gangneung, northeastern South Korea, are engulfed by flames on Tuesday, amid high wind and dry weather warnings for east coast areas. (Yonhap)

With strong wind warnings in effect across half of the nation, a wildfire broke out in Gangneung, Gangwon Province at around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Strong winds of up to 30 meters per second in the area have grounded helicopters, impeding response efforts to a Level 3 wildfire that has broken out. Level 3 is the second-highest level in the four-notch system.

The fire agency issued a Stage 3 response, the highest possible. This is the first time this year that such a response has been issued for a wildfire. In the event of an emergency such as a major fire or disaster, firefighting forces from five other regions are called in to assist. More than 500 personnel, including special firefighting teams, have been deployed.

According to the city, the fire is believed to have started when a pine tree broke and touched a power line, causing embers to spread into a wildfire.

Smoke from a wildfire is seen behind a town in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Tuesday morning. (Yonhap) Smoke from a wildfire is seen behind a town in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Tuesday morning. (Yonhap)

The area affected by the wildfire is reportedly at least 90 hectares, but it's expected to increase fast due to strong winds.

Residents were ordered to evacuate, as the fire is currently spreading rapidly toward nearby coastal residential areas. No casualties have been reported so far.

As of 11:30 a.m., over 100 houses have been destroyed by the fire and more than 80 people have been evacuated.