SENDAI – Police said Tuesday that a bonfire may be the source of a forest fire that broke out Monday in Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture, which temporarily forced nearly 400 residents from 117 households to evacuate.
According to police officials, a resident alerted firefighters around noon Monday to smoke coming from a forest near a temple. Traces of a bonfire were found near the temple.
No injuries were reported, and the fire was extinguished around 8 p.m. Monday, firefighters said.
An 80-year-old woman who lives nearby said she heard a loud siren around noon. As she stepped outside to see what was going on, she saw rising smoke and heard the sound of something burning.
“It was frightening,” she said.
City officials said they asked for assistance from the Self-Defense Forces, but the wind in the area was too strong for helicopters to help.
A local weather observatory said wind and dry air advisories were issued for the area around the time the fire occurred.
Strong winds in eastern parts of the nation also spread other fires on Monday, including a large-scale forest fire in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, and smaller fires in Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures.
In the Kamaishi fire, an evacuation order was issued to about 350 residents from 136 households.
No one was in injured in the fire, but the blaze continued Tuesday morning, prompting the Self-Defense Forces to help to help put it out.
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