Fires, Missiles and Ballots

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South Korean firefighters and troops battled a large wildfire over the weekend that tore through the country’s eastern coastal area, forcing thousands to evacuate and threatening two energy facilities in the region, the Associated Press reported.

The fire began Friday morning near the seaside town of Uljin and spread across more than 14,800 acres to the nearby city of Samcheok. More than 6,200 people have been evacuated and at least 159 homes and 46 other buildings have been destroyed.

The government deployed about 7,000 firefighters, troops and public workers, as well as 65 helicopters and more than 500 vehicles to contain the blaze.

The wildfire also threatened to spread to a liquid natural gas production facility and a nuclear power plant near Uljin but authorities were able to prevent the blaze from hitting them.

So far, no casualties have been reported. Officials said they are investigating the cause of the blaze.

The disaster comes just before South Korea holds its presidential elections, Bloomberg noted, adding to a growing number of stressors: Weeks before the March 9 polls, neighboring North Korea has been conducting various missile tests, including suspected ballistic missiles.

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