CHINA/TIBET – Hundreds of firefighters are battling to contain a forest fire in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region that has been ablaze for a week.
The fire that started on Oct. 27 in Zayu County currently doesn’t pose a threat to any human settlements, though 49 people from the nearest village have been transferred to safety, according to the region’s emergency management department. Zayu County is located in Nyingchi City, which sits at an altitude of around 3,000 meters.
As of Tuesday, the northern side of the fire site is still spreading, as the high mountainous terrain and the steep cliffs make it difficult to stifle the flames, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported. Meanwhile, fires on the eastern, southern, and southwestern sides have been contained.
China experiences numerous forest fires annually, with over 2,000 reported every year between 2010 and 2019, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration. Those blazes caused 607 deaths and resulted in the disappearance of 193,000 hectares of forest area.
Forest fires are usually concentrated in the central and southern parts of China, with fewer in the western region due to the relative scarcity of forest resources, according to the administration. For example, Tibet reported only 33 wildfires from 2010 to 2019, while the provinces of Hunan and Guizhou, as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, witnessed more than 3,500 wildfires, respectively, over the decade.
Last year, a devastating forest fire in the southwestern Sichuan province killed 19 firefighters and their guide. Provincial authorities said the fire, which was caused by an electrical fault at a substation, destroyed 3,047 hectares of forest and resulted in economic losses worth 97 million yuan ($15 million).