Nineteen people have died while fighting a raging forest fire in southwestern China and hundreds of reinforcements were sent to fight the blaze and evacuate nearby residents, officials and state media reported Tuesday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.
The area threatened by the fire in Sichuan province is thinly populated, but there was no estimate on how many people were leaving the evacuation zone. State media have described villages, a school, a chemical plant and other places as under threat.
It wasn't exactly clear when the deaths occurred, but an information officer in the city of Xichang was cited as saying the fire started on a farm Monday afternoon and quickly spread to nearby mountains due to strong winds. It said one of those killed was a guide and the rest were firefighters.
An emergency evacuation was initiated, and more than 300 professional firefighters and another 700 militiamen were sent to help, while Xinhua said another 885 firefighters from other cities in Sichuan were being deployed to Xichang, along with 142 fire engines, six remote water supply systems and extensive firefighting equipment. It said drones would be used to monitor the fire's progress.
Along with fighting the flames and evacuating residents, those force have also been deployed to protect key industrial infrastructure.