Three new wildfires break out near Chernobyl nuclear power plant

By Katy Clifton
A forest fire burning in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine (Picture: Planet Labs Inc./AFP via Getty I)

Three new wildfires have broken out in the radiation-contaminated evacuation zone around the wrecked Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Officials said the fires, which started near the site of the world's worst nuclear accident 34 years ago, were small and posed no threat to facilities holding radioactive waste.

The Emergencies Ministry did not give an area for the fires or say how they started, but said they were being fanned by gusty winds.

Firefighters battled large blazes in the area for 10 days this month before reporting on Tuesday that they had been extinguished.

The fires are in the 2,600 sq km Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that was established after the 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe.

The zone is largely unpopulated, although about 200 people have remained despite orders to leave. Fires in the area raise concerns that they could spread radioactive material.