Ukrainian firefighters on Tuesday entered their fourth day in battling a grass and forest fire in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, still contaminated with radiation from the nuclear power plant disaster more than three decades ago.
The firefighters have reduced the blaze by more than half since the previous day, bringing it down from about 25 hectares in the Chernobyl zone to about 10 hectares, the State Emergency Service said in a statement.
The federal service said that the radiation level appeared to be within the acceptable norm. About 120 firefighters were involved in extinguishing the blaze on Tuesday, the statement said.
A senior environmental official, Egor Firsov, said after the blaze erupted during the weekend that radiation in the area was detected at 16 times higher than normal background levels.
A 27-year-old resident of a small town near the exclusion zone is under investigation on suspicion of having started at least one of the local fires that firefighters have been battling in recent days.
The man, who could face up to five years in prison, is believed to have been burning grass and rubbish, and was unable to contain the fire because of windy weather, according to a police statement.
The 1986 reactor meltdown and explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, about 100 kilometres north of Kiev, is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.
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