Fire on Busan mountain ‘95 percent’ contained

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Fire on Busan mountain ‘95 percent’ contained

Firefighters announced Wednesday morning that a huge fire on Mount Unbong in Haeundae District, eastern Busan, was “95 percent” extinguished.

The fire began on Tuesday and burned an area equivalent to 28 soccer stadiums. No casualties have been reported.

The 135 residents of the area who were evacuated returned home late Tuesday night. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but police suspect that it was man-made.

Busan police and the Busan Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters are conducting a joint investigation into the cause of the fire by checking CCTV footage from the entrance of Mount Unbong. The fire was first reported by a resident of Bansong-dong in Haeundae District. The fire broke out near the entrance of Mount Unbong around 3:18 p.m. Tuesday and spread through the mountain, burning 20 hectares (49 acres) of forest.

“Putting out a fire of this caliber is a first for me,” said a firefighter. “The fire was especially hard to put out because of drought and the strong winds that accompanied it.”

The Busan Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters initially dispatched 16 helicopters, about 200 firefighters and 50 firefighting volunteers to the scene. However, the recent drought in Busan and the strong winds around the mountain frustrated the firefighter’s efforts. By Wednesday morning, 3,250 people, including firefighters, police, district office workers and soldiers were deployed to extinguish the fire. Residents in Haeundae District said they were distressed by the smoke and the smell of burning wood all night. The headquarters said that 95 percent of the fire was extinguished at 9 a.m. and gave the same figure again at 3 p.m.

BY JUNG MYUNG-SUK, LEE EUN-JI [jung.myungsuk@joongang.co.kr]

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