Ukrainian officials are claiming that more than 10,000 hectares of forest in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have been set ablaze due to active fighting between Russia and Ukraine.

A total of 31 fires in the area are posing a risk of nuclear wildfires and have been causing "increased levels of radioactive particle pollution."

"Managing and putting out the fires is currently not possible due to the zone currently being occupied by Russian forces," said Lyudmyla Denisova, the commissioner for human rights to the Ukrainian Parliament.

Denisova has called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send experts and firefighters to "prevent irreparable consequences not only for Ukraine but for the whole world," according to a report in The Independent.

"This will be possible only after Russian forces halt the hostilities in the area. This is why I am also calling on the international human rights organisation to put pressure on Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine and de-occupy areas of increased environmental hazard," she said.

31 fires in #Chernobyl over 10000 hectares of woodland. #Russia military has no means to put out the fire and no orders to allow Ukrainian firefighters in. This is a disaster

— Lesia Vasylenko (@lesiavasylenko) March 27, 2022

"As a result of combustion, radionuclides are released into the atmosphere, which are carried by wind over long distances. This threatens radiation to Ukraine, Belarus and European countries," Ms. Denisova added.

The officials are now worried that the fire may spread to the power plant and lead to a nuclear disaster if not brought under control.

"We're afraid that the fire will reach the nuclear power plant. The radiation level is already elevated," Ukrainian politician Inna Sovsun tweeted on Sunday.

The infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant was the site of the world's largest nuclear disaster and had been cordoned off in 1986. It was seized by Russia on the first day of its Ukraine invasion.

The fires could be seen via the satellite images taken by the European Space Agency. Ukraine's State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate has also warned of severe consequences if action is not taken.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Reuters / Gleb Garanich