The devastating forest fire in the town of Goseong, Gangwon Province, may have been caused by a disconnect switch on a utility pole, the state-run power utility said Friday.
In the early morning, the nation’s emergency management agency said the fire appeared to have started when a transformer exploded near a resort in the town of Goseong.
But a few hours later, the state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation, which manages both transformers and disconnect switches, said, “There was no transformer on the utility pole. It seems sparks flew up from electric wires connected to a load break switch. We will look into the matter after the fire is put out.”
A blackout affected 166 households after around 300 meters of power distribution cable caught fire. At 2 a.m., Kepco said, it disabled the power lines on concerns that the forest fire could spread throughout the region due to strong winds.
The Korea Gas Corporation stopped supplying gas to more than 6,000 households on Thursday night, but service has since resumed. But the gas supply to nine liquefied petroleum gas filling stations and 17 LPG stores was cut off in the town to prevent the fire from spreading further.
The blaze started Thursday night near a resort in the town of Goseong in Gangwon Province, about 210 kilometers northeast of Seoul, and then spread to the nearby mountains.
Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo convened an emergency meeting Friday morning with the ministry’s energy-related affiliates to assess the damage and how to remedy the situation.
“Officials should be on full alert until the fire is put out for the safety of the public and minimize damage with all possible means,” Sung said.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org