Most of the wooden structures of the historic Naksan Temple including its Hall of the Great Veneration went up in flames Tuesday when a massive forest fire that broke out in Yangyang, Gangwon Province spread to the seaside. But three national treasures, including a seated lacquered statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara that is Asias oldest, were spirited to safety in the temples basement. No one was hurt.
A massive wildfire fanned by strong winds rages in forests in Yangyang, Gangwon Province on Arbor Day on Tuesday, even as Korea celebrated the replanting of forests following the devastation of war./Yonhap
The blaze, which broke out at about 11:50 Monday night on a hillside in Yangyang-eup, Yangyang County, moved east fanned by strong winds, burning about 150 hectares of forest along with 38 homes. Some 800 residents of 12 villages were evacuated, as were about 60 guests staying at Naksan Beach Hotel. Yangyang County issued a disaster warning as traffic came to a standstill after authorities, in an effort to block the path of the fire, closed nearby roads. Some 40 helicopters and 6,000 firefighters were mobilized to put out the blaze.
The historic Naksan temple is ablaze on Tuesday after a forest fire that started in Yangyang, Gangwon Province spread to the seaside.
Meanwhile, a forest fire that ignited Monday morning in the eastern DMZ near Goseong, Gangwon Province reingnited Tuesday, spreading past the southern Military Demarcation Line and into South Korea proper. Some 300 local residents were ordered to evacuate as a precaution. The South Korean military believes the DMZ fire was likely started by North Korea’s military when it set fields on fire during its annual weeding operation. To better observe the DMZ, the North Korean military sets the area on fire each spring to remove weeds and reeds that have grown tall,” a South Korean military offical said. “To make sure the flames move south, they choose a time when the winds usually blow from the northwest. But the official said he had not actually witnessed the North Koreans light the fires.