President Moon Jae-in on Friday urged related authorities to utilize all available resources to cope with a devastating fire that has engulfed the northeastern border town of Goseong and adjacent areas in Gangwon Province.
Moon called an emergency meeting at the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, at 12:20 a.m., ordering officials to make all-out efforts to prevent the expansion of the fire.
According to the Gangwon Fire Headquarters, fire broke out on a roadside in Goseong, around 210 kilometers northeast of Seoul, at around 7:17 p.m. Thursday and spread to a nearby mountain.
During the meeting with the National Fire Agency, the Korea Forest Service, the Ministry of National Defense, and other related bodies, Moon asked officials to evacuate residents in vulnerable areas in a preemptive manner.
Moon also ordered officials to quickly come up with plans for the welfare of the victims, and highlighted that firefighters should also be cautious about their own safety.
The president said helicopters should also be utilized starting at daybreak, and that the government needs to make efforts to contact all residents in isolated areas as well.
The government should also cooperate with North Korea in case the fire spreads to the North, Moon added.
The fire agency said it issued the highest level alert -- level three -- as of 9:44 p.m. Thursday.
The first level indicates a fire is affecting only a limited area, while the second step is issued for a fire covering more than one city or province. The top level is issued for accidents affecting the entire nation, reflecting the seriousness of the situation.(Yonhap)