Hundreds battle deadly Ukraine forest fire

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Water-bombing planes sent to scene of blaze in Lugansk region

July 8, 2020

July 8, 2020

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Hundreds of firefighters and rescue workers rushed to deal with a forest fire that has killed six people in eastern Ukraine, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Tuesday.

Water-bombing planes were also sent to the blaze in the Lugansk region, which is partly under the control of pro-Russian separatists, Mr Avakov said.

Firefighters battled back the flames but they spread again, helped by gusts of wind and soaring temperatures.

It eventually burnt over 80 hectares, emergency services said.

More than 120 houses were burnt down close to the front line of fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Regional governor Serhiy Haidai told Radio NV the fire, which started on Monday, may have been caused by arson.

He said teams were trying to evacuate areas at risk but some older residents were refusing to leave.

"They don't want to leave their homes. They say, 'Here we were born, here we will die'," Mr Haidai said.

Spring wildfires this year ravaged more than 66,000ha in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl in northern Ukraine, scene of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents in 1986.

Updated: July 8, 2020 01:54 AM

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