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Firefighters approach scene of forest fire in China's NW border region

(Xinhua)

13:48, September 15, 2011

URUMQI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 firefighters were airlifted along with fire-fighting equipment on Thursday morning to the site of a fire that has been raging for two days in a virgin forest in mountainous Altay Prefecture in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The blaze broke out at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the forest around the upper reaches of the Sumu River, about 36 km from the town of Hemu, Burqin County in the border region.

The location of the fire has been pinpointed at 48.47 degrees north latitude and 87.35 degrees east longitude, which is near China's borders with Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

No casualties or farm animal losses have been reported.

A spokesperson with the local fire department said they hoped to contain the fire on Thursday, as firemen and 21 water pumps were airlifted on Thursday morning to the hilly, forested area where the fire has already burnt through an area of 6.6 hectares.

"The blaze did not spread quickly because the forest has a dense layer of humic substances on the ground, and the night temperature dropped to 2-3 degrees Celsius below zero," he said.

Firefighters had difficulty approaching the scene of the fire on Wednesday, as they needed to cross a river which has no bridge, according to the forest protection and fire prevention office of Altay Prefecture.

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