Hundreds evacuated for grassland fire in NE China

Updated: 2011-10-09 20:38


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HARBIN - A grassland fire in the Northeast China's Heilongjiang province that forced the evacuation of 465 residents on Sunday has been extinguished as of 16:50 pm, local firefighting authorities said.

Local watchmen spotted the fire at 11:48 am after a malfunctioning tractor reportedly ignited crops on a farm in the Hongxing district of the city of Yichun.

The fire, aided by dry and windy weather, quickly grew to more than eight square km in size by noon, forcing the evacuation of local farmers, firefighters said.

About 3,090 local rescuers, soldiers and firefighters, as well as a helicopter, were dispatched to the area to bring the fire under control.

The fire was the second wildfire to hit Heilongjiang over the weekend. On Saturday night, firefighters put out a forest fire that raged for a full day in the city of Heihe.

Since wildfires have occurred frequently recently, the national forest fire prevention authorities issued an orange alert Sunday for forest fire outbreaks for the northeastern areas of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and the northwestern and southeastern parts of Heilongjiang.

Orange is the second highest alert level in China's forest fire prevention system.

As most provinces in China have entered autumn in October, most parts of the country have been affected by dry and windy weather that may cause fire easily. Some provinces have adopted fire prevention measures to remove potential fire hazards.

A total of 77 people were detained in the campaign to eliminate fire hazards in the city of Zhoukou in the central province of Henan, while the same type of campaign, which will last until March 2012, was launched Sunday in Hunan, according to local firefighting authorities.