Around 6,000 people had to flee their homes in South Korea's eastern coastal region as more than 3,000 firefighters battle to control the wide-spread wildfire.

Some 6,000 people were forced to flee their homes.
Some 6,000 people were forced to flee their homes. (AFP)

South Korea has deployed thousands of firefighters and issued its highest fire hazard warning as a large wildfire tore through the country's eastern coastal region.

Some 6,000 people were forced to flee their homes as the fire, which started early on Friday on a mountain in the seaside town of Uljin, spread to the nearby city of Samcheok and beyond, destroying nearly 60 km² (6,000 hectares) of woodland and at least 116 homes.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths. South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety said officials were investigating the cause of the blaze, which grew rapidly amid strong winds and dry conditions.

READ MORE: Why are wildfires spreading and threatening landscapes?

The wildfire reached houses in the city of Donghae on March 5, 2022.
The wildfire reached houses in the city of Donghae on March 5, 2022. (AFP)

As of Saturday afternoon, authorities had deployed more than 3,000 firefighters, as well as 57 helicopters and 273 vehicles, according to the Korea Forest Service (KFS).

The blaze had briefly threatened a nuclear power station and a liquified natural gas plant on Friday, but the facilities are now safe with emergency services deployed on site to keep them protected, officials said.

Of the thousands who fled their homes, nearly 700 had been able to return so far.

READ MORE: Last nine years rank among ten hottest-ever on record: US agency

A firefighting helicopter drops water on the forest fire in Samcheok on March 5, 2022.
A firefighting helicopter drops water on the forest fire in Samcheok on March 5, 2022. (AFP)

Aim to bring all flames under control

President Moon Jae-in issued an alarm on Friday afternoon as the fire reached the perimeter of a seaside nuclear power plant in Uljin, forcing the operator to reduce operations to 50 percent and cut off some electricity lines as preventive measures.

Hundreds of firefighters were deployed to the plant and kept the blaze under control before winds drove it northward toward Samcheok, said Kang Dae-hoon, a National Fire Agency official.

The alarm was lifted after firefighters successfully prevented the blaze from spreading to the facility.

Yonhap news agency cited KFS chief Choi Byeong-am as saying that firefighters aimed "to bring all flames under control by sunset."

READ MORE: The top ten most costly natural disasters in 2021

Source: TRTWorld and agencies