China — A forest fire was still burning out of control in Shangrila, southwestern Yunnan Province, threatening the country’s first national park, local government officials said on Wednesday.
More than 1,000 people have been fighting the fire, which broke out at about 5:15 p.m. on Sunday in lushly forested Luoji Village. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
As of noon on Tuesday, fire fighters had created a buffer zone that was 1,000 meters long and 100 meters wide to halt the fire’s westward movement, but the eastern part of the blaze remained out of control due to strong wind, said a spokesman at the fire fighting headquarters.
“The fire had destroyed more than 100 hectares of forest as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and it’s heading for the Potatso National Park some 10 kilometers to the east,” he said.
The 2,000-square-km Potatso park, which was opened last July, covers 17 percent of Deqen, an autonomous prefecture principally inhabited by Tibetans. Its diverse scenery includes crystal-clear lakes, undulating mountains and gurgling streams.
“The park is of great biological significance as it is also an important part of the local wetland,” said the spokesman. “We have mobilized more local residents to join us to put out the fire and more professional forest fire fighters are on their way to Shangrila from other cities in Yunnan.”