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Premier warns against spread of forest fire
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for more efforts to prevent the spread and resurgence of fires that ravaged forests in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

Wen said on Saturday that concerned departments should "seize the opportunity and concentrate forces" to put out the fire and prevent its spread.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu also urged "forceful measures" against the fire, demanding firefighters to clean up and keep a close watch on the site to prevent resurgence of the fire.

Naked flames had been extinguished as of Sunday morning after people spending a whole night fighting the fire, said sources with the local government.

A total of 4,400 people, including the firefighters and the armed police, were mobilized to fight the fire, using 99 planes, 389 vehicles and 3,850 firefighting equipments, said the local government.

The fire ravaged an area of around 65 square kilometers but did not reach major forest zones. Local meteorological staffs created artificial rains to help quench the flames, according to the local government.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The blazes were spotted last Friday in the forest areas between Heihe City and Yichun City, bordering the Lesser Hinggan Mountains.

Severe drought hit the province this summer and the average temperature this autumn was higher than usual, posing a high fire risk to forests in the region, according to the provincial meteorological bureau.

The Lesser Hinggan Mountains and the Greater Hinggan Mountains form the country's largest forest zone.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2007)

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