Construction Equipment GLOBAL
Volvo CE Goseong
In Goseong, South Korea a wildfire struck the community in 2019. Volvo CE played a key role in the cleanup efforts. Photo: Shutterstock

Rebuilding a community after a wildfire

Goseong rises from the ashes

The Building Tomorrow Project

In 2019, the South Korean city Goseong was struck by devastating wildfires. The community recovered — partly with aid from Volvo Construction Equipment excavators and Volvo trucks. “It’s not a one-time activity. We are always willing to help”, says Shin Sungeun, Manager, Corporate Communications at Volvo CE.

It was a Thursday night in April 2019 when a transformer sparked alongside a road in Goseong in the Gangwon Province, and high winds carried the resulting flames quickly through a forest to a populated area.

By the time 13,000 firefighters had put out most of the blaze that weekend, two people had died, dozens were injured, and almost 5,000 were displaced. Nearly 500 homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged, thousands of livestock were lost, and two square miles of forest had burned down.

The government declared it a national emergency, and it is widely considered the worst wildfire South Korea has ever seen.

About half an hour away, employees at Volvo CE and Volvo Trucks were shocked and saddened along with the rest of the country as the news spread.

“That could have been my relatives or friends,” says Shin Sungeun. “We could all see the suffering and knew it would be difficult for them to recover. We wanted to help.”

A salesperson went to the area to determine which machines would be right for the job. As a result, Volvo CE and Volvo Trucks sent a total of four employees who volunteered their time and paid local customers to provide and operate four excavators and two trucks.

“With the construction industry slowing down over the last few years, giving our customers work at the same time we were helping the community was shared value,” says Sungeun. “It was a win-win.”

Over seven days, the crew cleared trees and other debris from properties and roads and helped demolish buildings that could not be saved.

Thanks to the work of many first responders in the region, about 3,700 of the 5,000 displaced residents have since returned to the area.

“They really appreciated our support, and our employees and customers felt very proud of what they had done,” says Sungeun.

Volvo CE Goseong
A group of Volvo CE and Volvo Trucks associates pose with victims of the Goseong fire and customers who operated the equipment to assist in the cleanup effort.

Related Articles

Volvo CE North America employee Rhys Eastham also volunteers time to his local fire department in Pennsylvania.

Meet Volvo CE dealer Pat Charron, who volunteers at an annual fundraising event to combat hunger and homelessness in his area.

The covid-19 pandemic sees no national borders. Luiz Vieira works at Volvo CE in Brazil and quickly decided that he wanted to lend a helping hand in both Brazil and Mozambique.