• Kyodo

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Local authorities canceled an evacuation advisory for some 1,800 Gifu Prefecture residents Saturday morning after a mountain forest fire was brought under control, local government officials and firefighters said.

The fire was confirmed to have been completely extinguished a little after 4 p.m.

The city governments of Gifu and Kakamigahara canceled the advisory at 6:40 a.m. because the fire was unlikely to spread, they said, adding that about 300 residents who had spent the night at evacuation facilities, including an elementary school, had returned home by 10 a.m.

As a result of all-night efforts to fight the fire, most of the blaze was under control by the morning.

Evacuees who spent the night at the gymnasium of a local elementary school greeted with applause the announcement that the advisory had been lifted.

Junko Hattori, 44, said she did not feel too afraid as she was able to spend the night among neighbors. Nonetheless, she said, “I am relieved to hear that the advisory has been lifted.”

Hiromitsu Tanaka, 72, who spent the night at a community center in Gifu, said he was unable to sleep well. “It seems the wind has subsided, but I do wish it would rain,” he said.

For most of the day, however, flames could still be seen at several sites in Kakamigahara, including areas along the border with the city of Seki, and firefighters continued to battle the conflagration until late in the afternoon.

Five helicopters from the prefectural government and the Self-Defense Forces resumed firefighting operations in the morning, while some 1,000 firefighters were deployed on the ground.

The blaze started near the top of a mountain in the jurisdiction of Gifu city around 1:30 p.m. Friday and consumed about 510 hectares of mountainous terrain. The local authorities issued an evacuation advisory to some 3,350 residents.

A 27-year-old firefighter from the Kakamigahara municipal fire brigade was hit by a falling rock while on duty and suffered injuries to his right foot, but no other injuries were reported.

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