Pine tree colony spared from blaze as it continues for sixth day
Firefighting authorities said Wednesday they managed to prevent the fires ravaging the eastern coastal mountains from invading the Geumgang Pine Tree colony, after flames approached the area overnight Tuesday.
With fires burning for the sixth day in a row, authorities said that they have made progress in extinguishing the flames, which scorched an additional 250 hectares (617 acres) of woodland in Uljin, North Gyeongsang, compared to yesterday’s figure, bringing the total damaged area to 17,400 hectares.
In Uljin, the fires have destroyed 285 residences and 410 other structures, displacing 320 residents.
However, firefighters have only managed to extinguish 70 percent of the fires in Uljin and Samcheok, Gangwon.
According to the authorities, rough terrain and the lack of road access has hindered efforts to put out the fire in the vicinity of Mount Eungbong in the southern part of Uljin county.
Choi Byeong-am, head of the National Forest Service (NFS), said most of the progress made in putting out the flames was made overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday, with the firefighting effort containing the main body of the fire during this time frame.
The NFS chief added that the fire had approached the Geumgang Pine Tree colony, home to 8,000 pine trees that are over 200 years old, but that firefighters had stopped the flames before they got too close.
The NFS said it plans to ramp up its efforts to eliminate the blaze by deploying 80 helicopters and 3,970 personnel, focusing its air power above Mount Eungbong.
In response to the widespread destruction wreaked by the fires, companies have lined up to donate to victims who have suffered property damage and displacement.
Biopharmaceutical company Celltrion announced Tuesday that it had donated 500 million won ($405,000) to the Hope Bridge Association of the National Disaster Relief. A spokesman said the company “hopes [the donation] will provide at least a little hope to residents of the affected areas who are suffering due to the large mountain fire.”
LX Holdings, which has five former LG affiliates under its wing — LX International, LX Hausys, LX MMA, LX Semicon and LX Pantos — said Tuesday it would donate 500 million won worth of interior finishing materials to the association for use in reconstruction in the destroyed regions.
Petrol giant S-Oil and the Halla Group conglomerate, which has close ties to Hyundai, have also donated 300 million won each to the Community Chest of Korea, the main government-sanctioned charity, for recovery and stabilization efforts in the damaged areas.
Earlier on Monday, LG Group announced it planned to give 2 billion won to the Community Chest of Korea, and that it would also furnish the LG employee training center in Uljin as a temporary housing facility for residents in the area who were displaced by the fire.
Other notable donations include the 2-billion-won donation given to the Hope Bridge Association by Posco Group and 1-billion-won contribution by Hyundai Heavy Industries, as well as the 1 billion won each donated by Hanwha Group and GS Retail.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]