Helicopters, firefighters battle forest fires in Japan

Helicopters, firefighters battle forest fires in Japan

Japan Forest Fire
A helicopter dumps water on a wildfire in Ashikaga, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. A forest fire broke out in the rural area Thursday, near another blaze burning since Sunday, Feb. 21. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO: A forest fire broke out in a rural area north of Tokyo on Thursday (Feb 25), near another blaze burning for a fourth day.

One man suffered burns and was hospitalised, and firefighters have been deployed, said Hitomi Hirokami, an official at Kiryu in Gunma prefecture, about 100km northwest of Tokyo.

News footage showed smoke billowing upward from the hills.

Japan Forest Fire
Smoke rises from the site of a wildfire in Ashikaga, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. A forest fire broke out in the rural area Thursday, near another blaze burning since Sunday, Feb. 21. (Kyodo News via AP) (Kyodo News via AP)

Another fire has been raging in nearby Ashikaga in Tochigi prefecture, where 207 households have been asked to evacuate, said spokesman Minoru Takayama.

Firefighters were working on the ground, while military helicopters were dousing the area. No one has been injured.

The two fires are not directly related, but the area has not had much rain lately, causing flames to spread, officials said.

An evacuation order for Ashikaga was first issued on Tuesday for about 50 households, underlining how the stricken area was growing.

Japan Forest Fire
Residents watch as a helicopter dumps water on a wildfire in Ashikaga, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. A forest fire broke out in the rural area Thursday, near another blaze burning since Sunday, Feb. 21. (Kyodo News via AP)

The cause of the fire was unclear, but there is a rest stop for hikers in an area where it is believed to have started.

Three evacuation centers were set up with social distancing measures and disinfectants and everyone is wearing masks, Takayama said.

Source: AP/vc

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