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(2nd LD) Hundreds ordered to evacuate as forest fire grows in eastern city

All Headlines 23:02 May 06, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with recent figures throughout; ADDS info on fire in Sangju in last 3 paras)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, May 6 (Yonhap) -- The Gangneung city government said more than 300 of its residents were ordered to flee Saturday as a wind-fed forest fire spread in the eastern city.

The residents had been ordered to evacuate as of 6 p.m., after the blaze started on a hill near Daegwallyeong, a mountain pass close to the east coast, at around 3:30 p.m., according to city officials.

A total of 30 private houses were damaged by the fire as of 10 p.m., but no casualties have been reported, they said.

The residents took shelter at nearby schools and other public facilities, officials said.

Traffic along some parts of a nearby expressway was temporarily restricted but returned to normal at 10 p.m.

About 2,700 people, including hundreds of firefighters, soldiers, police officers and government officials, have been dispatched to fight the fire, but they are struggling to extinguish it, the officials said.

A series of forest fires hit South Korean cities on the same day amid a drought warning.

Another 820 people and 14 helicopters have been mobilized to put out a fire in Samcheok, 290 kilometers east of Seoul.

A fire that started in Sangju, 270 kilometers south of Seoul, around 2:13 p.m. has also continued for more than eight hours.

Two mountain climbers were injured due to the fire and were taken to a hospital. Authorities said 215 nearby residents were ordered to evacuate.

Flames are visible on a mountain in Gangneung, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul, on May 6, 2017, as a wind-fed fire that erupted at around 3:30 p.m. has continued for hours. (Yonhap)

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