The infamous Chernobyl is now on fire, and it's because of the blaze that the radiation level around the area has significantly increased.
Radiation Spike in Chernobyl
According to a report by CNN, two forest fires started on Saturday and are still raging on as of Monday morning, Apr. 6, covering 50 acres of land and with firefighters in the scene, trying to control the flames.
The fires broke out near Vladimirovka, an uninhabited village within the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The head of Ukraine's ecological inspection service, Egor Firsov, published a Facebook post about the fire, writing down: "There is bad news -- in the center of the fire, radiation is above normal."
Along with the post is a video of a Geiger counter, which is used to determine the radiation level.
Firsov explained what is happening in the video, saying that the device is showing a 2.3 when the norm is only 0.14. Nevertheless, he assured the public that the radiation level has only spiked within the area of the blaze.
But what are the numbers?
According to Gizmodo, these refer to the microsievert per hour (μSv/h), with sieverts measuring the energy, most specifically ionizing radiation, that could be absorbed by the human tissue--and the reading shows that it is 16 times higher than usual, and is five times more than the maximum allowable level of background radiation based on Ukraine's guidelines.
Nevertheless, the radiation level is still normal in the city of Chernobyl itself as well as in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, according to authorities.
Brave Firefighters Battle the Fires
Firsov describes the situation as "difficult," but as of writing, there are 124 firefighters who are battling the bigger of the two forest fires, who are also using two An-32P planes, and a Mi-8 helicopter.
They have carried out 42 water drops on the area and are still working to keep it under control.
Meanwhile, 14 firefighters were sent to combat the smaller of the two fires, which has covered 12 acres of land.
Vladimirovka is located within the 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone that was vacated in 1986 after the devastating blast at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which sent radioactive fallout across Europe and exposed millions of people to dangerous levels of radiation.
Decades after, high levels of radiation are still present and will remain so for more years to come.
Although mostly unpopulated, there are still around 200 people residing within the exclusion zone despite orders to evacuate.
Burning Dry Grass "For Fun"
Meanwhile, the forest fires have been deemed as intentional, and that a suspect has already been caught.
In a report by CTV News, the suspect was a 27-year-old man that was burning dry grass "for fun" in the area, but that he failed to extinguish the blaze when the wind caught it and it expanded quickly.
Firsov disclosed that they do have "very acute" problems with people setting a fire, especially during the spring and autumn seasons.
He also said that relevant draft bills exist, and he wishes they would be voted in so there will be harsher penalties to anyone caught intentionally starting fires in the area.