HOHHOT -- Local authorities said 154 houses were burned down and 390 people affected by a fire that broke out Friday in a state-level protected forest in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
No casualties were reported.
The fire began at about 11:20 a.m. in a residential zone in Genhe City in the northern Greater Hinggan Mountains, igniting lumber owned by a forestry company. It spread to a forest nearby, Genhe firefighters said.
Witnesses said the fire had covered about 7,000 square meters and engulfed dozens of houses as of 2 p.m.. Strong winds had made it difficult to control the blaze.
"The fire is spreading, but all nearby residents have been evacuated," said Yang Haixia, a press officer with the fire brigade of Hulun Buir City.
Officials said 43 firefighters and seven fire engines arrived at the site 10 minutes after the fire broke out, and more than 50 firefighters and 18 fire engines from neighboring cities joined the effort at about 3 p.m.
Nearly 1,000 people, including firefighters from the local forestry bureau, forest police and forest farm staff, are putting out fire and maintaining order at the scene.
The local government is investigating the cause, affected area and economic loss incurred by the fire.