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April 3, 2020

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Strict action to prevent forest fires

China’s forest and grassland fire control command office dispatched six groups to inspect local fire prevention work, especially during the upcoming Qingming Festival.

The inspection groups will travel to nine regions in the country, including Beijing, Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Shaanxi, the Ministry of Emergency Management said yesterday.

They will check the fire prevention and control measures of local bureaus, the latest emergency plans, the staffing of firefighting teams and the preparation of firefighting materials.

The ministry also stressed learning lessons from the heavy casualties in recent forest firefighting and improving forest and grassland fire safety.

Nineteen people died in southwest China’s Sichuan Province while battling a forest fire earlier this week.

Another forest fire broke out in southwestern Yunnan Province Tuesday and had been put out as of yesterday.

Authorities demanded a focus on prominent risks of fires this season, while enhancing monitoring and early warning systems to prevent large forest fires.

The traditional tomb-sweeping holiday, Qingming, which falls tomorrow this year, is a time for Chinese people to mourn the dead and worship their ancestors by visiting tombs and making offerings. The tributes involve burning incense and joss paper.

From 2010 to 2019, over 97 percent of fires were triggered by human activities, with a large share linked to sacrificial and agricultural activities, and mountain cover burning for afforestation, said the ministry.

Experts said the dry conditions, large fuel load and flammable vegetation may also lead to more frequent fires this season.

On Wednesday, China issued a red alert for forest fires, warning of “extremely high” fire risks for the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, and an orange alert for Beijing and the provinces of Hebei and Shanxi.


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