Fire in China’s largest virgin forest brought under control

Fire in China’s largestvirgin forest brought under control

6 March 2008

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China — Firefighters in the Nyingchi Prefecture of TibetAutonomous Region have brought a blaze in China’s largest virgin forest undercontrol after a three-day battle, the local government said on Wednesday.

No casualties were reported.

“If the weather is cooperative and there is no strongwind, the fire is expected to be put out in one or two days,” said Zhoigar,a top government official in this southeastern prefecture.

An investigation is underway to determine the damage andcause of the blaze in the forest that covers more than 53,900 square kilometers.

The fire, which broke out on Sunday near a highway, has lefta four kilometer burnt streak in the mountains.

“We are still on high alert as the trees in the forestare mainly Chinese pine, which are very prone to being ignited,” Zhoigarsaid.

The local government evacuated more than 300 people from avillage at the foot of the mountains threatened by the flames. The village wasless than two kilometers away from the fire site.

“The fire close to the village has been completely putout and most of the villagers have come back to their homes,” Zhoigar said.”The village survived from the fire and some villagers have now joined usin helping to extinguish the blaze.”

More than 6,000 people, including about 2,000 soldiers, aretaking part in the fire fight. The local government is carrying out three timesthe amount of artificial rainfall.

The local observatory forecast the forest area, which sawmainly cloudy weather the past two days, would have sunny days with a mild windin the next two days.

Nyingchi is about 400 kilometers from Lhasa, the regionalcapital of Tibet. More than 46 percent of its land area is covered by forest.

Earlier this month, the National Forest Fire PreventionHeadquarters warned local governments the country faced an unprecedented risk offorest fires due to dry weather and large amounts of combustible material, suchas broken tree branches, a legacy of the snow disaster a month ago.

All-level governments were required to set up special taskforces in charge of forest fire control and increase patrols in the fire-proneareas.

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