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Fires destroy large areas of forests in Sichuan
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-30 04:57

CHENGDU: A blaze which destroyed 640 hectares of natural woodland has been put out after five days of firefighting.

The fire began on May 23 in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

It came just a few days after another blaze destroyed 800 hectares of forest a few kilometres away.

There were no casualties but the economic losses are being calculated. The police have a suspect in custody, who is believed to have accidentally started the blaze.

To prevent the flames from reigniting, 1,000 of the 2,000-plus forest policemen and firefighters will remain on the scene for two to three days, said the General Office of Sichuan Provincial Forest Protection and Fire Prevention Headquarters yesterday.

The fire ripped through virgin forests in Shuiluo Township in Muli Tibet Autonomous County less than 50 kilometres from where a blaze erupted on May 17. That one destroyed 800 hectares of natural woodland.

The area is Sichuan's largest forested area.

The job to put out both fires was arduous, as there are no roads in the region. The sites are remote mountain areas 2,800 to 3,000 metres above sea level.

Those involved in putting out the fires had to be rationed with food. They drank river water and rested against trees to sleep, said Zhou Junming, a leading official with the prefecture's forest police.

(China Daily 05/30/2005 page3)

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