A forest fire has killed 19 people, including 18 firefighters, in southwest China’s Sichuan province, state news agency Xinhua and city officials reported on Tuesday. (Mar 31)
The fire started on Monday at a farm and spread to nearby mountains because of strong winds, burning 2,470 acres by midnight, the report said. Xinhua did not say how the fire was started.
State television footage showed large flames shooting into the sky from the mountains above the city of Xichang in Sichuan province, turning the sky orange.
The fire now directly threatens major facilities in downtown Xichang, including a petrol storage station, four schools and the city’s largest department store, Xichang’s city government said on its social media account.
More than 140 fire engines, four helicopters and nearly 900 firefighters have been sent to tackle the blaze, according to local officials.
Around 690,000 people live in the city, which is about 340km southwest of provincial capital Chengdu.
More than 1,200 local residents have been evacuated due to the fire and more than 2,000 firefighters have been dispatched to put out the fire, Xinhua said.