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3,000 people taming forest fires in northeast China
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More than 3,000 firefighters are trying to tame the fires that are ravaging forests in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, sources with local fire squad headquarters said on Friday.


The fires were spotted at 10:00 am Friday in the forest areas between Heihe City and Yichun City, bordering the Lesser Hinggan Mountains in Heilongjiang Province, said a provincial meteorological bureau spokesman.


The two largest fires in Xunke County of Heihe City, were estimated to cover 5.5 and 6.6 square km respectively, according to earlier report.


Six helicopters have been dispatched to carry firefighters and scout for fire condition, while provincial meteorological bureau is working to induce artificial rains.


The fires, fanned by high winds of 29 to 50 kilometers per hour, are spreading quickly. "It is hard to make out the size of forests devoured by the blaze on satellite pictures due to clouds," an official with the meteorological bureau told Xinhua in an interview.


Severe drought hit the province this summer and the average temperature this autumn was higher than usual, posing a high fire risk to forest areas as well as the Lesser Hinggan Mountains and the Greater Hinggan Mountains, the country's largest forest zone, the bureau said.


Chinese vice premier Hui Liangyu urged local government on Friday to check the fires as soon as possible and other areas in China liable to forest fires, and enforce prevention and monitoring work during the National Day Holiday.


Lei Jiafu, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration, rushed to the fire site Friday afternoon to oversee the firefighting work.


(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2007)

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