CHENGDU: A blaze in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has destroyed about 800 hectares of forests.
The fire started in two townships in Muli County, Sichuan’s largest forest zone, last Tuesday. But due to the lack of communication facilities, the fire was not reported to the county government until the next day. There have been no casualties.
The Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture Forestry Bureau immediately sent a helicopter to find the exact site of the fire. Using smoke from the fire to guide him, the pilot judged the site to be between Hengbo and Hongqi townships, which is about 3,000 metres above sea level.
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the dry weather could have been a factor, said Zhang Lianzhong, deputy chief of the Forest Fire Prevention Headquarters under the prefecture’s forestry bureau.
Not a drop of rain has fallen in the area since last November and there is a layer of dry, rotten material about 1 metre thick on the forest floor, he said.
The prefecture has sent 2,195 people, including 196 forest policemen, to form a 25-kilometre ring around the blaze to prevent it from spreading. It has assembled another 700 people from nearby counties and towns as possible reinforcements.
A team of experts from the Sichuan Provincial Meteorology Bureau have also arrived at the scene and could induce artificial rainfall to put out the fire, according to the General Office of the Sichuan Provincial Forest Protection and Fire Prevention Headquarters.
Soon after learning about the blaze, forestry policemen from the prefecture headed for the site. As there is no road connecting the county seat with the area, they had to spend one day building one so that vehicles could get to the site.
Because of the inaccessibility of the site and the steep terrain, forestry policemen had to eat limited rations of bread, drink river water and sleep outside, said Zhou Junming, a leading official with the prefecture’s forestry police.
The fire has now been brought under control, he said.