One dead, 4,000 evacuated as wildfire rips through Sokcho
Authorities are still fighting the fire on the east coast as of Friday morning. A total of 45 helicopters, some 70 fire trucks and 13,000 firefighters are said to be fighting the fire along the coastline region.
According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, a man in his 50s died in the fire that began in Goseong County, Gangwon, around 7 p.m. Thursday. The fire department suspects the fire was started by a transformer explosion.
The fire spread quickly to the mountains in the vicinity, carried by strong winds with speeds of up to 27 meters per second over the night, blazing through some 250 hectares of land in Goseong County alone and moving to the Sokcho and Gangneung regions along the coastline.
The Interior Ministry said around 6 a.m. Friday that around 4,011 people had fled their homes in the fire over night, which includes 2,250 from Goseong and 1,523 from Sokcho.
“It was like the end of days, the sky was red last night,” said a woman in her 60s surnamed Yoon, who lives in Sokcho. “All we could do was to watch our house from afar as the fire jumped this way and that in winds that were so strong they would lift people up.”
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon held an emergency meeting at the government complex in central Seoul Friday morning and will be visiting Goseong later today.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]