Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster site is seeing a spike of fire in the last couple of days to contain two forest fires in the nearest area.
In a statement, Ukrainian emergency services said a fire covering around 50 acres broke out on Saturday afternoon near the village of Vladimirovka, within the uninhabited Chernobyl exclusion zone, and responders were still fighting two blazes on Monday morning, reports CNN.
"There is bad news -- in the center of the fire, radiation is above normal," Egor Firsov, head of Ukraine's ecological inspection service, wrote in a Facebook post alongside a video of a Geiger counter. "As you can see in the video, the readings of the device are 2.3, when the norm is 0.14. But this is only within the area of the fire outbreak."
A total of 124 firefighters, two An-32P planes and an Mi-8 helicopter are battling the largest blazes, and have carried out 42 water drops on the area. Another 14 firefighters were battling a smaller blaze of around 12 acres, the emergency services said.
However, the spike in radiation levels hasn't yet appeared to extend to the capital Kiev or to the city of Chernobyl itself where radiation level is normal.
A Geiger counter near the site of the fire on Sunday shows a radiation level slightly below the maximum permissible amount. Other footage taken near the fire shows higher readings.
Vladimirovka is a deserted 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone village, which was evacuated after the devastating 1986 blast at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant that sent radioactive fallout billowing across Europe and exposed millions to dangerous levels of radiation.
The region has since been taken over by nature, and forest fires are not uncommon.
"The problem of setting fires to grass by careless citizens in spring and autumn has long been a very acute problem for us," Firsov wrote. "Every year we see the same picture -- fields, reeds, forests burn in all regions."
He demanded strict actions against those who start fire in nature intentionally.