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NE China barn fire caused by short circuit

Updated: 2013-06-03 10:59
( Xinhua)

HARBIN - A fire that ripped through a large grain storage center in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province on Friday was caused by a short circuit, local fire authorities confirmed on Monday.

The blaze in Huayuan Township of Lindian County, a major grain base in China, was not caused by arson, said the fire control headquarters of the Heilongjiang Provincial Public Security Bureau.

NE China barn fire caused by short circuit

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a barn base in Lindian county, Heilongjiang province, June 1, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

The fire was spotted at one barn around 1:15 pm on Friday. Strong winds and high temperatures helped it to eventually spread to 78 barns, with a total grain reserve of 47,000 tonnes. It was finally contained at 4:30 pm.

On Monday, nine people, including the barn's director Gao Yanping, were transferred to the local public security bureau, charged with crime of negligence in a major-liability accident, said Lindian County's public security bureau.

Gao and the barn's deputy director, Luo Hongquan, have obtained a guarantor pending trial. And another seven people, including two of the barn facility's managers and five workers, have been detained by police.

Investigators tracked the origin of the fire to a power distribution box near one of the grain bins in the first barn to be set alight. They sent material evidence to a professional fire evaluation center affiliated to the Ministry of Public Security.

Investigation and identification results showed that sparks from a broken wire ignited reed mats and sacks nearby, and finally caused the barn fire.

The short circuit is directly related with the continuous movings and frictions of the power distribution box during the barn's daily operations, said the fire control headquarters.

Among the affected barns, 60 were filled with corn, and 18 with rice. Two tonnes of grain in each barn were burnt, while the total economic losses and the cause of the fire are still being investigated.

Established in 1961, the grain storage center an area of 220,000 square meters and is operated by the Heilongjiang branch of the China Grain Reserves Corporation. A total of 140,000 tonnes of grains were stocked there when the fire happened.