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1,120 combating Inner Mongolia forest fire
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A total of 1,120 armed police and forest workers are struggling to extinguish a forest fire in the Greater Hinggan Mountains in northeast China.

The blaze was spotted at about 11 a.m. on Thursday in an area of virgin forest in the Oroqen Autonomous Banner of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, bordering Heilongjiang Province, said a spokesman with the regional fire-prevention headquarters.

No casualties have been reported but the fire is still spreading northeastward, the spokesman said.

"Dry weather and strong winds have made it difficult to quench the fire," he said.

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu ordered Friday local authorities to put out the fire soon while ensuring the safety of the fire fighters and local residents.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Experts said that most areas in China would experience high temperature and little rainfall this autumn and winter, which could make the woods more vulnerable to fire risks, according to a national conference on preventing forest fires this autumn and winter held on Sunday and Monday.

Local forest fire prevention authorities have been ordered to reinforce their efforts in eliminating possible risks and keep alert to any outbreak.

(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2007)

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