Ukrainian first responders have been battling one of the worst wildfires ever inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for the last ten days that now surrounds the abandoned nuclear power plant, reported ABC News.
According to Yaroslav Yemelianenko, the head of the Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators and also works with the state agency that manages the Exclusion Zone, said the fires are burning 1.2 miles from the power station containing radioactive waste.
Yemelianenko wrote on Facebook that the situation is "critical" and accused local government officials of downplaying the severity of the fire.
"The situation is critical. The zone is ablaze," Yemelianenko wrote. "The local authorities report that everything is under control, but in fact the fire is rapidly spreading across new areas."
"I have two possibilities for what's going on: either the Cabinet is not being told the real situation or they've chosen the Soviet policy of hushing it up, as they did in '86," he wrote.
The State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management's Facebook page posted several pictures of the fast-spreading wildfires burning near the power plant.
We reported last week that ecological inspection chief Yegor Firsov said a radiation spike of 17x was detected in one of the hot spots.
VIDEO: A forest fire is underway in the restricted zone around Chernobyl, scene of the world's worst nuclear accident, but Ukrainian government agencies have denied an official's claim that the fire caused a spike in radiation levels pic.twitter.com/EOyG0XG4QD— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 7, 2020
The 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant incident is one of the worst nuclear disasters in human history. The region is the most radioactively contaminated area in the world.
Earlier this year, we showed how certain types of fungi are attracted to radiation. And the radioactive site of the abandoned power plant has seen an abundance of fungi growing on it over the years.
Now the power plant has found itself in an emergency again. Smoke from the wildfire can be seen around nuclear reactor No. 4, reported RT News.
Wildfires 🔥 are burning very close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 🇺🇦 seen in the Sentinel-2 data on 12/04/2020 🛰️🌏 burned areas show up in the darker red colours, active fires show as yellow #Chernobyl #wildfires #April2020 @nceoscience @sentinel_hub @CopernicusEMS pic.twitter.com/iQ0DDiI3Pa— David Moore 🔥🛰️🌍🖥️ (@David_P_Moore) April 13, 2020
Volodymyr Demchuk, a senior official from the emergency service, said 130 firefighters, 60 vehicles, three planes, and three helicopters have been battling the wildfire.
"This is the biggest fire in the history of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone," Yemelianenko told ABC. He said it measures about 11 miles wide and is burning dangerously close to the power station.
Olena Gnes, a guide who works at Chernobyl Tour, said the fire has the potential to release radioactive particles into the atmosphere.