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839 fires reported on Lunar New Year's Eve


11:19, February 11, 2013

BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- A total of 839 fires were reported nationwide on Saturday, or Lunar New Year's Eve, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Security on Sunday.

The fires led to direct economic losses of more than 6.9 million yuan (1.1 million U.S. dollars), the statement said.

Public security authorities at all levels carried out joint inspections during peak hours to examine more than 130,000 fire-prone areas, the ministry said.

Chinese custom calls for setting off large amounts of fireworks during the Spring Festival holiday in order to fend off evil spirits and bring good luck for the new year.

The municipal government of Beijing said sales of fireworks have dropped this year, as residents have exercised restraint in order to ward off air pollution caused by fireworks.

On Saturday night, fireworks injured 25 people and triggered 83 fire-related emergencies, down 28.6 percent and 44.6 percent, respectively, from the same period last year, according to a Sunday statement from the Beijing Office on Fireworks and Firecrackers.

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