Strong wind rekindles forest fire in Sichuan
CHENGDU. KAZINFORM The forest fire leading to 31 deaths, including 27 firefighters, in Muli county of the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province reignited on Saturday afternoon, local authorities said on Sunday, China Daily reports.
Strong wind rekindled the blaze at about 5 pm in the northeastern part of the forest in Muli, according to the sources in the county.
The area burned by the fire is estimated to be 5 to 10 hectares and is spreading because of the wind.
So far, some 350 firefighters have reached the blaze and are cutting down trees to form an isolation belt and trying to extinguish the flame. Another 440 firefighters from neighboring townships are hurrying to the scene, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management's Fire and Rescue Bureau on Sunday afternoon.
To reinforce them, 95 firefighters from the Sichuan provincial forestry firefighting team have been mobilized to join the battle. Two K-32 helicopters and an M-26 helicopter from the ministry's base in Xichang, the regional capital, are conducting reconnaissance and have doused water on the reignited area, China Central Television reported on Sunday.
A K-32 helicopter can carry from 2 to 3 metric tons of water, and an M-26 from 10 to 15 tons. The water source of the K32s is about 1 kilometer from the reignited blaze. As the water source of the M-26 helicopter is far and that of the K-32 helicopters is only about 1 kilometer from the fire, they will be able to refill about six or seven times a day, the report said.
At about 5 pm Saturday, a small spot of the burned forest caught fire, burning rotten wooden poles which subsequently rolled down a cliff, igniting trees that had not been totally burned.
The blaze then spread outside the previously burned area, according to the Liangshan office of the forestry and grassland fire prevention headquarters.A lightning strike has been confirmed as the cause of the blaze, which started on March 30.
Li Guangjun, head of the Liangshan forestry police said his bureau started an on-the-spot investigation on Tuesday and found an 80-year-old pine tree on the ridge of the mountains in the village of Li'er, Muli county that was believed to be the starting point of the blaze.
It had obvious traces of a lightning strike and fire, Li said.