The forest fire in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has been brought under control, thanks to efforts of more than 11,000 people.
After six days of fierce firefighting and the assistance of artificially produced rainfall,the four major fire sites — Yichun, Zhanhe, Heihe and Daxing’anling forestry areas — are all basically out, according to officials. All the forest brigades are still closely watching the situation while clearing up hot spots, the official said. The provincial and municipal weather bureaux are awaiting orders to continue artificial rainfall when the weather permits in Hujia, Heilongjiang Province. “The casualties and fire losses are not available at present,” said Zhao Sheng, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Forestry Fire-control office. Governor of Heilongjiang Province Zhang Zuoji commanded the firefighting work on spot. And all the top leaders of the local governments concerned were there to assist in the battle. The fire broke out at 2:52 pm last Thursday in Heihe. Investigators found the fire started accidentally when forest-fire control workers lighted a fire in the woods along the fire-control belt which separates the protected forest from other vegetation. “Such practices (clearing up the fire control belt) are generally taken as an effective way to avoid forest fires in Heilongjiang Province. However, it turned out to be the prime criminal in the disaster this time.” said Zhao. In addition, the dry, clear and windy weather, which has lasted since the National Day, also accelerated the fire’s spread. The fire expanded violently to the surrounding Yichun, Daxing’anling and Zhanhe forestry areas. Some 1,682 fire brigades, 1,619 armed police and more than 8,000 people were mobilized to extinguish the blaze. Heilongjiang Forestry Administration reported 21 forest fires and fire alarms in six days between last Tuesday through Sunday. In an urgent notice, Zhangurged authorities to strengthen fire prevention measures across the province. Forestry departments at various levels were also urged to co-operate with local disciplinary inspection and supervision sectors to find people who set fires.