Ukrainian wildfires kill 9, set off ammunition from war

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Wildfires in eastern Ukraine have killed at least nine people and detonated unexploded ordnance fired during fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces, authorities said Thursday.

About 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) were on fire in the Luhansk region, the state emergencies service said.

In the town of Stanichna Luhanska, flames engulfed houses on two streets, one of which had leftover shells from fighting in 2014-16, the local administration said on Facebook. Stanichna Luhanska is just outside the rebel-controlled city of Luhansk.

The emergencies service said nine people have died in the fires, including one employee of the state forestry service. It say about 250 residences have been destroyed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement that some of the blazes may have been set off by artillery fire from the rebel-held territory.

Heavy fighting between separatist rebels and Ukrainian forces broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Although the fighting has died down significantly, sporadic clashes are still reported.

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