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2,000 Fight Forest Fire in Anhui
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More than 2,000 people are battling to extinguish a forest fire that's been raging near a tourist resort in east China's Anhui Province since Wednesday night and two fire fighters have been injured.

The fire broke out at about 11:00 PM on Tuesday in bushes on a mountain close to the Tiantangzhai tourist resort in western Anhui's Jinzhai County. It was thought to have been extinguished at about 9:00 AM on Wednesday.

But the fire flared up again at 11:00 PM the following day and spread to the forest on the 1,600-meter-high Baima Peak inside Tiantangzhai, said ZhangZuofang, deputy head of the local rescue team. More than 2,000 fire fighters, soldiers and militia are battling the blaze, he said.

Smoke was seen above the Baima Peak Thursday afternoon and hundreds of soldiers rushed to the fire scene with shovels and wet towels around their necks. To date the fire has been controlled within the Baima Peak area and didn't spread to other areas, Zhang said.

"But it's difficult to put out the fire completely," Zhang said. He explained the ground was covered with thick layers of decayed vegetation where the fire could smolder when the wind blew. The steep cliffs and rugged terrain made it difficult for firefighters to access the area, he said. Two fire fighters were injured and have been hospitalized but they're not in serious condition, added Zhang.

Tiantangzhai is a national forest park, a state-level nature reserve and a tourist resort. It's commonly known as "the last piece of virgin forest in eastern China".

(China.org.cn, Xinhua News Agency November 10, 2006)

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