China — A forest fire that was racing towards a 500-year-old Buddhist temple was put out late Saturday night in southwest China’s Yunnan province, local authorities said Sunday.
The fire started on the mountain behind Qiongzhu Temple, or Bamboo Temple, in the provincial capital of Kunming, Saturday noon, and spread fast in the dry forest. It was extinguished at 11:20 pm Saturday but fire-fighters were still combing the area to root out potential fire hazards, said a spokesperson with the city’s fire bureau.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Another forest fire broke out in the city’s Yiliang county Friday afternoon, quickly spreading to be within 20 kilometers reach of Shilin scenic spot in neighboring Shilin Yi autonomous county, which is famous for its karst landscape.
But fire-fighters stopped it reaching the scenic spot, putting it out at 9:30 am Sunday, the spokesperson said.
Municipal police have detained a local resident Tao Jirong after the fire he was using for cooking got out-of-control, the spokesperson said.
Bamboo Temple, best known for its painted clay statues of 500 Buddhist arhats, has been burned down and reconstructed several times since it was established in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) on Yu’an Mountain. The present structure mostly dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911).
Earlier this year, China’s southwestern region was hit by a severe drought, the worst in decades. The drought was only slightly relieved in mid-April when spring rains started to fall.