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February 13, 2010

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Yunnan facing increased risk of fire

YUNNAN Province at China's southwestern tip faces a growing fire risk over the holiday as strong winds and lingering drought will make it dangerous to use fire in open country, according to the provincial meteorological bureau.

In a statement released on Thursday, the bureau urged residents who followed the folk custom of worshipping ancestors ahead of the Spring Festival not to burn offerings of fake money.

And fireworks, which legend says will help dispel spirits and bad luck, should not be set off in certain places in case of fire disasters in townships and cities, it said.

The bureau forecast that the dry heat and strong gales would continue during the holiday period. Wind could be particularly severe in regions covered with relatively high forestation including Lijiang, Wenshan and Dali.

Urban residents could expect water rationing while water supplies to some companies would be restricted.

At an executive meeting of the provincial government on Wednesday, Governor Qin Guangrong required local meteorological departments to increase artificial rainfall when weather conditions allowed and all relevant departments to work together to prevent fire disasters.

Official figures show that the worst drought in 60 years has fueled more than 80 forest fires in past three months, with the latest fire on Mt Yangmei in the Yi Autonomous County of Shilin destroying 92 hectares of forest in three days and forcing the evacuation of nearly 3,400 villagers.


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