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7,530 people fighting fire

AROUND 7,530 people and 12 aircraft have been mobilized to battle a forest fire that had killed a firefighter, injured four others and burnt out about 600 square kilometers of land in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province as of yesterday, state radio reported.

Rescuers were also using 31 excavators and bulldozers to fight the blaze that started on Monday afternoon in the Zhanhe Forestry Bureau's Yinanhe Forest Farm, China National Radio said.

The 12 aircraft included seven helicopters.

The fire has quickly spread northeast to Yichun City.

Xu Zhaojun, Party secretary of Yichun city, said 1,000 forest police were airlifted to the fire front on Thursday, increasing the total number of firefighters to around 7,530.

Yichun is home to more than 30 percent of the world's total Korean pine virgin forests and also a renowned granite stone-forest national park.

The fire, fueled by above Force 8 winds, was travelling at about 5-10 kilometers per hour, the report said.

High temperature, strong winds and a poor highway network have hampered firefighters' efforts, the report quoted officials from the firefighting headquarters set up by the provincial government.

The fire had ravaged about 400sq km of grassland and 200sq km of woods, the officials said yesterday afternoon.

More than 1,200 forest police are helping alongside professional firefighters.

A group of 12 forest fire specialists, headed by Sun Zhali, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, have arrived at the firefighting headquarters.

It has also affected more than 20,000 local residents, according to the firefighting headquarters. People living as far as 35km from the fire site were being evacuated.

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 people are fighting a forest fire at Zhaijiazhuang village in Jiaocheng County, northern China's Shanxi Province. The fire was reported on Tuesday afternoon. Local government officials said neither the temperature nor winds were high and the fire danger had moderated.


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