Forest fire continues to spread in NE China

Updated: 2010-06-28 13:46
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JIAGEDAQI, Heilongjiang - A new fire was seen blazing Monday morning in a pine forest in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, posing more difficulties for fire fighters as the previous one continued to spread.

The new blaze in Greater Hinggan Mountains in Heilongjiang province has an area of five square kilometers by 7 am, said Sun Xiguo, director of the fire control headquarters of Greater Hinggan Mountains.

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The other, spotted Saturday afternoon in Inner Mongolia autonomous region and later spread to Heilongjiang, had engulfed an area of 13 square kilometers by Sunday evening, Sun said.

More than 7,000 people from both Heilongjiang and another 3,000 from Inner Mongolia have been battling the fires.

The ground temperature had been as high as 50 degrees Celsius and coupled with a wind speed of 20 km/h, made battling the blazes extremely difficult, he said.

The air temperature had been at record high, more than 38 degrees Celsius since mid June, and there had been no rain for more than 10 days, said Guo Weiyan, a forest policeman of Inner Mongolia.

The dry hot weather will continue for the next three days, according to the Central Meteorological Bureau.

The Greater Hinggan Mountains is a large timber producing base in China, where more than 80,000 square kilometers are covered by mainly pine forests.

Only forestry workers, who are participating in the fire control, live in the sparsely inhabited area. Their families have been evacuated, Sun said.

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu Sunday urged more efforts to be made to extinguish the fires quickly and ensure people's safety.