Ukrainian authorities say a forest fire is causing radiation levels to spike in the area of Chernobyl, a nuclear power plant that melted down in 1986.
“There is bad news — in the center of the fire, radiation is above normal,” wrote Egor Firsov, the head of Ukraine’s ecological inspection service, in a Facebook post. “As you can see in the video, the readings of the [Geiger counter] are 2.3, when the norm is 0.14. But this is only within the area of the fire outbreak.”
Since Chernobyl’s deadly 1986 meltdown, the area around the plant has remained uninhabited — allowing nature to take over the abandoned town.
But now the blaze is reigniting the specter of the decades-old disaster site. Residents of the Ukranian capital of Kiev are even concerned about breathing in the radiation, according to The Guardian, which is about 60 miles south of Chernobyl, though Firsov said there was not yet cause for alarm.
Authorities say that a 27-year-old man has admitted that he set the fires “for fun,” according to The Guardian.
It’s unclear whether the radiation levels will continue to spike or die down as firefighters continue their work in the area, but Firsov said that as of Sunday, radiation levels at the site were about sixteen times the norm.
READ MORE: Chernobyl radiation levels spike as forest fires rage [CNN]
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