Seoul, Apr 5 : The South Korean government on Friday declared a state of national disaster over the massive blaze that engulfed five cities and counties along the northeastern coast, leaving one dead and 11 wounded.
The fire likely started on Thursday night from a transformer spark near a resort in the town of Goseong and then spread to the nearby mountains, according to Choi Jin-ho, a fire captain at Gangwon Fire Headquarters, The Washington Post reported.
Affected by strong wind, the flame rapidly spread to nearby mountainous regions including the Inje county and the cities of Sokcho, Donghae and Gangneung in Gangwon province.
As of 10.30 pm onThursday, one has been confirmed dead and at least 11 injured. About 250 hectares of forest were gutted by the fire, and some 125 houses destroyed. Thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate overnight.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in chaired a meeting of the national crisis management center overnight, ordering the use of all available resources to put out the blaze, but firefighters had difficulty due to the strong wind and the darkness.
At daybreak, tens of helicopters were dispatched to extinguish the fire. The main blaze was reportedly put out early in the morning.
Hundreds of firetrucks were mobilised from across the country, with around 10,000 personnel, including firefighters, civil servants, the military and police, gathered from across the nation for the firefighting and rescue operations.