Three dead in southwest China forest fire

12:37, February 17, 2010      

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Three forest workers died while trying to put out flames that engulfed forests in southwest China's Yunnan Province Tuesday, the local government said early Wednesday.

The three men were among 300 people fighting a forest fire that broke out on Mt. Wugong (Mt. Centipede) in Binchuan County of Dali at 12:30 p.m., the county government said in a press release.

It said the three forest workers died while protecting other fire fighters from being injured.

The visible flames, which engulfed about 50 hectares of the forest amid high wind, were put out at midnight.

The local government said Binchuan county had received no rain since November and was prone to fire.

Another forest fire broke out at 3 p.m. Sunday on Mt. Cangshan, a major tourist attraction in Yangbi County of Dali. As of Tuesday night, it was only partially contained.

The fire evacuated more than 2,000 visitors and local residents, though no casualties were reported.

Fire control headquarters in Yunnan said 84 forest fires had been reported in the province since November, up 611 percent from same period of the previous year.

Yunnan is also suffering the worst drought in 60 years, and windy weather has helped forest fires overspread fast, according to the provincial forestry department.

Source: Xinhua
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