Four killed in two days in east China forest fires

Four killed in two days in east China forest fires

14 February 2009

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China — Four people were killed in east China’s Fujian Province which had 43 forest fires Thursday and Friday, engulfing more than 1,000 hectares, local authorities said Saturday.

A forestry guide was injured when fighting a fire and died after treatment failed. Two villagers were killed as they set fire to grass to clear land for farming and one other man was killed after he started a fire accidentally with a cigarette butt.

More than 8,000 people, including police officers, firemen and villagers battled the flames. It also took 35 fire engines and about 1,000 other vehicles to put out the fires, according to the office for fire prevention with the Provincial Forestry Bureau.

Fujian has nearly 7 million hectares of forest, Some regions are suffering from drought which helped fuel these fires, officials said.

One fire, that burned for nearly 40 hours across 330 hectares of forest, was extinguished Saturday morning in Shanxian County, 270 km from Fujian’s capital city Fuzhou. It broke out at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Investigations showed the fire was triggered by a villager’s smoking in the forest who discarded a burning cigarette.

The suspect has been detained.

On Friday, the provincial fire prevention headquarters banned the use of fire in countryside until March 13.

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