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Fire Engulfing Virgin Forest in Tibet
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Firefighters in Tibet have extinguished the high-altitude forest fire but are still struggling to prevent it from flaring up again, the local forestry authority said on Friday.


No casualties have been reported.


Fire on the north side of the mountain has been extinguished, while on the south side some parts of the forest are still smoldering, according to the Armed Police Tibet Forest Contingent.


A high-altitude blaze which started on Tuesday night engulfed more than 470,000 square meters of virgin forest in Konjo county of Qamdo prefecture, east of Tibet Autonomous Region.


More than 260 fire fighters along with some 1,000 police and local residents helped fight the blaze which was made difficult, as it was at an altitude of 4,900-meters.


The wind which had caused the fire to rapidly spread subsided on Friday morning, sources with the local forestry authority said.


Snow has been falling since Thursday but it did little to bring the fire under control, they said.


The cause of the fire is under investigation, said Shi Ruifa, a local police officer.


Drought and strong winds have affected Konjo County since February and daytime temperatures have exceeded 22 degrees Celsius, Shi said.


Konjo County has 142 hectares of primary forest, the second largest forested area in Tibet.



(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2007)


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