Blazes tear through forests in southeastern cities of Andong, Yecheon

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) — Wildfires have reduced huge swaths of forests in the southeastern cities of Andong and Yecheon to ash, fire authorities said Monday.

The fires that broke out Sunday engulfed the mountain areas of Andong and Yecheon, North Gyeongsang Province, and burned around 255 hectares of land, equivalent to 357 football fields.

Wildfires approach a village in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province on Feb. 21, 2020, in this photo provided by the National Fire Agency. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The cities’ governments resumed containment operations early Monday, deploying more than 2,000 public servants and scores of fire equipment, to put out the remaining flames.

In Andong, the wildfires started at 3:20 p.m. Sunday, quickly spreading throughout the forests and causing residents to evacuate. At around 4:12 p.m., the fire started in the nearby Yecheon as well.

Extremely dry weather and unpredictable, strong wind gusts fanned the flames.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, 30 percent of the fires in Andong had been contained, while 60 percent of the ones in Yeocheon and Yeongju were under control.

While most residents stayed up all night, concerned about whether or not their homes had burned down, there has been no reports of casualties, fire and forest authorities said.

Residents take shelter at a camping site in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, on Feb. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)