Wildfire Near Crippled Fukushima Plant Doubles in Size; Concern Over Fallout of Highly Radioactive Material
A wildfire has been raging for more than 2 days near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The fire started in a mountain forest on the outskirts of Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture. The area is part of a zone designated as “no-entry” due to high radiation levels following the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and the Self-Defense Forces are using helicopters to fight the blaze. They are also looking at the possibility of using ground crews.
Footage from an NHK helicopter on Monday morning showed smoke rising from wide areas and fires burning in several locations.
Local officials and firefighters say the blaze abated somewhat on Monday afternoon thanks to rainfall. The wildfire is estimated to have burned about 20 hectares of land so far.
The Mainichi Reports:
NAMIE, Fukushima — A fire broke out in a mountain forest near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on the evening of April 29, consuming an area approximately 20 hectares in size, according to prefectural authorities.
The fire started on 448-meter-high Mount Juman in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, prompting the prefectural government to request the dispatch of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) on a disaster relief mission on April 30. A total of eight helicopters from Fukushima, Miyagi and Gunma prefectures as well as the SDF discharged water on the site to combat the fire.
As the fire continued to spread, however, helicopters from the GSDF, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties on May 1 resumed fire extinguishing operations from around 5 a.m.
The area is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” due to high radiation levels from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and entry into the area is barred in principle.
According to the Fukushima Meteorological Office, a lightning advisory had been issued for the town of Namie when the fire broke out, and Fukushima Prefectural Police suspect that lightning was to blame for the blaze as they continue to investigate the cause of the incident.
As of May 1, there were no major changes to radiation levels in the heart of Namie and other areas near the fire scene, according to the Ministry of the Environment.
“We will continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas,” said a ministry official.