Thou­sands sent to fight new for­est fire in In­nerMon­go­lia

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By YUAN HUI in Ho­hhot and CHENMENGWEIin Bei­jing

A sec­ond big fire broke out in China’s largest for­est in the Greater Hing­gan Moun­tains on the same day a cross-bor­der fire from Rus­sia was extinguished.

The fire broke out at 12:15 pm on Tues­day in the Bei­dahe for­est in the In­ner Mongolia au­ton­o­mous re­gion. More than 8,300 fire­fight­ers are work­ing to ex­tin­guish the blaze, ac­cord­ing to re­gional fire author­i­ties.

By press time, the fire had en­gulfed about 50 square kilo­me­ters of for­est. The fire­fight­ers — 2,590 of whom are armed po­lice of­fi­cers — and 12 he­li­copters have been sent.

Strong winds, moun­tain­ous ter­rain, and dry veg­e­ta­tion made the fire­fight­ing “ex­tremely dif­fi­cult”, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial state­ment from the fire author­i­ties.

The blaze was thought to be caused by a stoker em­ployed at a forestry sta­tion who im­prop­erly dis­posed of ashes and other residue from a fire. The sus­pect is in cus­tody, the State For­est Fire Pre­ven­tion Head­quar­ters said.

Wang Haizhong, deputy direc­tor of the gen­eral of­fice of the head­quar­ters, warned that over the next 10 daysChina will face an in­creas­ing risk of for­est fires due to an ex­pected rise in tem­per­a­ture­sacross­then­ation.

Wang was quoted in a Xinhua in­ter­view as say­ing that China still lags be­hind de­vel­oped coun­tries in terms of in­vest­ment in for­est fire pre­ven­tion.

In some poorly pre­pared western prov­inces, he said, the ex­pen­di­ture on fire pre­ven­tion was less than 10 cents per hectare of for­est, while in the United States and Canada it can reach $2 per hectare.

The tem­per­a­ture in In­ner Mongolia this spring is higher than in pre­vi­ous years, pos­ing a higher fire risk for the re­gion’s forests.

A cross-bor­der fire broke out Sun­day in an­other area. That fire was put out on Tues­day and cleanup is un­der­way.

Xinhua con­trib­uted to this story.

Con­tact the writ­ers at chen­meng­wei@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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