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Smoke without fire?

By Li Qiaoyi (Global Times)

10:08, June 26, 2013

After an outbreak of a fire at a large open-air granary in Lindian county, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province at the end of May, public suspicions have been growing over the real cause of the blaze.

Built in 1961, the Lindian granary is one of 338 national granaries under the direct control of China Grain Reserves Corporation, also known as Sinograin, which manages the State grain reserves.

A short circuit was blamed for the fire, which burned 1,000 tons of grain, Sinograin said in an announcement on its website on June 3. There were no casualties, but the fire caused direct losses of around 3.08 million yuan ($50,157), the statement said.

Arson has been ruled out, according to the investigation results from the province's public security authorities.

But the arrival of a team from the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection at Sinograin shortly before the fire has prompted speculation online.

Some netizens have suggested there may have been a plot by Sinograin's regional branch to start the fire in order to cover up embezzlement, the Beijing News said in an article on June 4.

The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has recently sent out several teams to investigate possible corruption at government departments at both the central and local levels, as well as at State-run organizations including Sinograin.

Sinograin said in a statement on its website on May 28 that the CPC investigation team had come to examine the company's implementation of the Party's anti-corruption policies.

But there is no relationship between the fire and the investigation team's arrival, an unidentified official with Sinograin told the Beijing News, rebuffing the mounting speculation.

In the wake of the fire, Sinograin has launched further precautionary measures and an effort to strengthen internal control policies as well, especially over safety supervision rules, an official with Sinograin who refused to be named told the Global Times Thursday.

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