Forest fires surge amid unremitting heat in C China

Forest fires surge amid unremitting heat in C China

06 August 2013

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China — Persistent hot weather in central China’s Hunan Province has contributed to a spike in forest fires, according to forestry authorities.

Fifty-five forest fires erupted in the province from July 1 to Aug. 4, compared to just five in the same period last year, Deng Sanlong, chief of the provincial forestry department, said at an emergency video conference on forest fire control held Monday afternoon.

As of Sunday, fires had affected a forest area of 6,344 mu (423 hectares), up dramatically from the 160 mu affected last year, Deng said.

No casualties were caused by these fires.

Forest fires were reported in 13 out of 14 cities or prefectures in the province, mainly triggered by naked flames, smoking and short-circuited wires, among other factors, and aggravated by the hot and dry weather this year, according to Deng.

The provincial forest fire control headquarters on Aug. 1 issued an orange alert for forest fires, the second-highest level under the four-tier alert system. Cities and prefectures are requested to strengthen fire monitoring, and fire-fighting teams and facilities at various levels are on stand-by, he said.

Many parts of China have been experiencing extreme heat. The National Meteorological Center (NMC) on Tuesday issued an orange alert for high temperatures, forecasting highs of 40 to 41 degrees Celsius in Hunan, as well as Hubei, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi provinces and Chongqing Municipality.

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