A fire burnt up trees and shrubs on a mountain that shrouds one of the most famed imperial mausoleums in the ancient city of Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, but no damage was caused to the cultural relics, local museum officials said on Sunday.
The fire broke out around 2:00 p.m. Saturday on the western part of a mountain that encased the tombs of a powerful Chinese empress Wu Zetian and her husband Gaozong in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Qianling Mausoleum, as the tombs are called, reportedly houses the most precious possessions of the two rulers, including paintings, ceramics, calligraphy works and jewelry articles.
The fire was fanned up by sandstorms which struck the area on Saturday, said Fan Yingfeng, curator of the Qianling Museum.
A fire broke out around 2:00 p.m. Saturday on the western part of a mountain that encased the tombs of a powerful Chinese empress Wu Zetian and her husband Gaozong in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). (Photo: Chinese Business View)
More than 100 local villagers and 15 fire-fighters managed to put out the fire around 3:10 p.m. on Saturday. About 30 trees and a few shrubs were lost to the blaze.
Initial investigation showed the fire was caused by a deserted cigarette end in the dry grasses.
"Although the fire didn't cause any major damage, it reflected an urgent need to educate residents in neighboring villages to guard against fire risks," Fan said.
He said lessons should be learnt from the destruction of a 600-year-old Namdaemun gate in Seoul, one of the most treasured landmarks in the Republic of Korea. The two-tiered gate was set ablaze by a man upset over a land dispute.
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2008)