Japan urges 400 to evacuate over forest fire

The fire broke out around Nanyo city in Yamagata prefecture on May 4 and there is a risk it will spread, as per officials

AFP, Tokyo

Updated: May 06, 2024 05:15 AM GMT

Smoke rises from a mountain forest in Nanyo, Yamagata Prefecture, on May 4. (Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun)

More than 400 residents in northern Japan were urged to evacuate on May 5 over fears a forest fire that has been blazing for two days could spread to residential areas.

Helicopters poured water for hours on the mountains around Nanyo city in Yamagata prefecture to douse the flames, but the operation was called off after dark with the fire still burning.

We're urging over 400 residents in the three districts of the city to evacuate, an official in charge of the disaster response told AFP.

There is a risk the fire will spread to the residential area, she said, adding firefighting efforts will resume on May 6 morning.

Footage from public broadcaster NHK showed white smoke rising from the mountains.

The northern city has been sweltering under higher-than-average temperatures and saw the mercury rise past 31 degrees on May 5, according to private weather forecaster Weather News.

The fire broke out on May 4 -- prompting several road closures -- with around 95 hectares of land burnt down by May 5 evening, city authorities said.

Globally, 2024 has already been marked by climate extremes and rising greenhouse emissions, spurring fresh calls for more rapid action to limit global warming.

Japan's northern Sapporo city, known for its February snow festival, saw temperatures hit 25 degrees Celsius last month, the earliest since records began in 1877.

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