Firefighters battle forest blazes in Japan

Firefighters battle forest blazes in Japan
A wildfire north of Tokyo (Kyodo News via AP)

A forest fire has broken out in a rural area north of Tokyo, close to another blaze which has been burning for four days.

One man suffered burns and was taken to hospital, said Hitomi Hirokami, an official in Kiryu in the Gunma prefecture, about 60 miles north-west of Tokyo.

News footage showed smoke billowing upwards from the hills.

Residents watch as a helicopter dumps water on a wildfire (Kyodo News via AP)

Another fire has been raging in nearby Ashikaga in the Tochigi prefecture, where 207 households have been asked to evacuate, said spokesman Minoru Takayama.

Firefighters were working on the ground, while military helicopters were dousing the area.

The two fires are not directly related, but the area has not had much rain lately, causing flames to spread, officials said.

An evacuation order for Ashikaga was first issued on Tuesday for about 50 households, underlining how the stricken area was growing.

A helicopter dumps water on a wildfire (Kyodo News via AP)

The cause of the fire was unclear, but there is a rest stop for hikers in an area where it is believed to have started.

Three evacuation centres were set up with social distancing measures and everyone is wearing masks, officials said.

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