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Grassland fire forces evacuation of hundreds in northeast China

(Xinhua)

16:52, October 09, 2011

HARBIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- A grassland fire in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province forced the evacuation of 465 residents on Sunday, local firefighting authorities said.

Local watchmen spotted the fire at 11:48 a.m. after a malfunctioning tractor reportedly ignited crops on a farm in the Hongxing District of the city of Yichun.

The fire, aided by dry and windy weather, quickly grew to more than eight square km in size by noon, forcing the evacuation of local farmers, firefighters said.

More than 1,500 soldiers and firefighters, as well as a helicopter, have been dispatched to the area to bring the fire under control.

The fire was the second wildfire to hit Heilongjiang over the weekend. On Saturday night, firefighters put out a forest fire that raged for a full day in the city of Heihe.

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