Forest Fire in Yunnan Partially Controlled

Forest Fire in Yunnan Partially Controlled

16 February 2010

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China — A forest fire that has been raging for two days on Mt. Cangshan, a picturesque mountain in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, has been partially contained, the local fire control authority said Tuesday.

The fire broke out at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, and has burnt 70 hectares in the mountain by 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Forest Fire Control Headquarters in Yangbi Yi Autonomous County, Dali.

The headquarters said that more than 2,000 visitors and local residents have been evacuated and no casualty had been reported.

A helicopter has been sent to aid the fire control work in the hilly forest land. Roads linking to the mountainous area have been cordoned off, according to the headquarters.

It said that more than 700 people including local residents and soldiers had been working to put out the fire. The weather service department has also carried out measures to increase rainfall.

To facilitate the rescue and minimize economic losses, local county government has earmarked a relief fund of 200,000 yuan (29,282 U.S. dollars).

Given that some regions were too difficult for even fire fighters to scramble up, the headquarters have decided to dig fire barriers first to contain the licking flame and then to clear off the remaining fire.

Fire fighters feared that gusty wind may carry sparks elsewhere and cause a relapse.

Open flames could be seen clearly from the foot of the mountain by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The fire control headquarters said 84 forest fires had been reported in the province since November last year, an increase of 611 percent more than the same period of the previous year.

Yunnan is suffering the worst drought in 60 years. But windy weather has helped forest fires overspread fast, according to the provincial forestry department.

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