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Helicopter dispatched to SW China forest fire

(Xinhua)

08:28, March 20, 2012

Photo taken on March 19, 2012 shows the forest fire spread to Caopu Township in Anning, a county-level city on the outskirts of Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. A fire that engulfed mountain forests in Yimen county of Yunnan Province Sunday, has spread to the provincial capital Kunming, local authorities said Monday. More than 530 firefighters have been sent to the site Monday. A severe drought has lingered in the heavily-forested province for three consecutive years, causing water shortages for several million residents and posing fire risks. (Xinhua/Xu Tao)

KUNMING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- A helicopter and more than 1,000 people have been dispatched to help extinguish a forest fire that continues to rage in southwest China's Yunnan province, local authorities said Monday evening.

A rescue team consisting of 1,075 military personnel and civilians was sent to the site of the blaze Monday evening, local authorities said.

The fire, which broke out at 5:25 p.m. Sunday in Yimen county, defied overnight firefighting efforts and spread through the county's mountainous forests to Caopu township in Anning, a county-level city on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Kunming, said a spokesman from the provincial forest fire prevention headquarters.

A helicopter and five excavators from the nearby city of Dali have been mobilized to help fight the fire.

A severe drought has lingered in Yunnan for three consecutive years, causing water shortages for several million residents and creating fire risks.

Yunnan is China's second most heavily-forested province, with a total forest coverage of 47 percent.

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