Forest fire still raging in SW China after 9 died

12:31, March 04, 2011      

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About 1,000 firefighters aided by two helicopters are still fighting a forest fire in a mountainous region in southwest China's Yunnan Province Friday.

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has urged fire control departments to assemble professional forces to fight the fire, after nine fire fighters died and seven others were injured in the fire.

Wan Yong, deputy commander of Yunnan Provincial Forest Fire Prevention Authority, said Friday morning that the firefighters had stopped the fire from spreading, and hoped to contain the blaze by noon time.

He said the firefighters were composed of professional firefighters armed police.

"The fire has spread over an area of 135 hectares in the mountainous region, where fire engines are unable to enter," he said.

The mountain fire has been contained 4 to 5 kilometers away from the nearest village as of 11 a.m. Friday in Jianchuan County, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

About 300 local residents have volunteered to carry water and food for the firefighters.

Local authorities said the fire had been caused by a local villager's careless burning of corn roots Wednesday.

Winds re-ignited a fire that had been earlier put out Thursday, trapping the fire-fighters dispatched by county and township-level fire control departments in the afternoon.

Among the dead, four were county and township officials, three professional fire-fighters, and two volunteers.

Hospital sources said the injured were in stable condition as of Friday morning.

Source: Xinhua
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