Firefighters extinguish blaze near Chernobyl plant in Ukraine

Baku, April 30, AZERTAC 

The inferno started yesterday at midday local time and spread across some 320 hectares, coming within 20 metres of the site. More than 300 firefighters with scores of vehicles battled the blaze on the ground, while aircraft dumped water onto the flames from above.

"At 6:00am local time, the fire was controlled and stopped," emergency services said in a statement.

"Work is continuing to extinguish the fire."

Officials said several people who had been living as squatters in the area were evacuated for their safety.

There are no reported deaths from the fire.

The cause of the blaze is not confirmed, but Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov said the investigation had not ruled out arson.

The area around Chernobyl was evacuated after the 1986 blast and the last reactor there was shut down in 2000, but some personnel still operate in the exclusion zone, where work is underway to lay a new seal over the reactor site.

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