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Fires Near Chernobyl Increase Radiation Level

A view of a forest fire burning near the village of Volodymyrivka in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Two forest fires near the now defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine have boosted the radiation level in the area.

Ukrainian firefighters worked into Sunday night to put the fires under control.

Emergency services said one of the fires that spread to an area of about five hectares was contained. The other fire was covering a much larger area, of about 20 hectares.

Fire officials said radiation levels in the area near Chernobyl were considerably higher than normal.

The emergencies service, however, said radiation levels in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, about 100 kilometers south, were within normal range.

The fires were within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone established after the 1986 explosion at the plant, an area of 2600 square kilometers which was largely evacuated because of radioactive contamination.

Since than about 200 people have remained in the area, disregarding orders to leave.