3 die as forest fires hit Southwest China

2024-03-18 08:19:57China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Three local officials died while directing efforts to battle one of the forest fires that broke out on Friday and Saturday in Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

The fires were among forest fires that have occurred in several places across China since last month. Spring is a peak season for forest fires due to windy and dry conditions, according to the National Fire and Rescue Administration.

The three officials died amid a blaze that started at 6:10 pm on Saturday in Douge village in Lincang, Yunnan, and the fire also caused one injury, according to the local government.

The fire, which was extinguished at 11:05 pm on Saturday, thanks to the efforts of 110 firefighters, affected an area of about 5.33 hectares, the local government said. It added that authorities were monitoring the fire scene in case of reignition. The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

In neighboring Sichuan, crews have been battling a forest fire that broke out at around 5 pm on Friday near Baizi village in Yajiang county of the Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture.

The fire spread to a larger area due to a sudden increase in wind speed on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

As of 1:30 am on Sunday, the fire consisted of three main blazes due to a sudden strong wind and the unpredictable direction of the wind, resulting in the fire spreading in multiple directions, according to a report by China Media Group.

No casualties had been reported from those fires as of Sunday afternoon, and more than 4,900 residents were safely evacuated, China Media Group reported. The cause of that fire was also under investigation.

In response to the blazes that erupted in Sichuan, the National Meteorological Center activated an emergency response to provide vital weather monitoring and forecasting support for the firefighting efforts. A key step involved refocusing the scope of satellite rapid imaging to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, which will enable closer and more frequent observation of the fire zone's weather patterns.

The prefectural meteorological center has warned of continued high forest fire danger in Yajiang and Kangding counties over the next three days.

The national headquarters of forest and grassland fire prevention and control has also activated an emergency response and dispatched a working team to the scene to guide the firefighting and rescue work.

As of evening on Sunday, a total of more than 2,230 fire-rescue personnel were at the scene, including over 1,400 from Sichuan.

In addition, eight helicopters from the Southern General Station of Aerial Forest Protection of the Ministry of Emergency Management were carrying out firefighting operations at the scene.

On Sunday morning, several local residents told Xinhua News Agency that the fire was not visible from the county seat and that water, electricity and communication services had not been affected.

A staff member at a hydropower station in Yajiang was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the station had not been affected by the fire as of Sunday noon.

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