A forest fire that filled Kunming's skies with haze for two days has strained Yunnan's firefighting resources while underscoring the drought-stricken province's vulnerability to wildfires.
More than 2,000 firefighters and soldiers have been dispatched to fight a forest fire that started Sunday night in Yimen County (易门县), about 40 kilometers west of Kunming.
Overnight efforts to contain the fire were unsuccessful in the face of strong winds and dry conditions. On Monday the fire spread northeast toward Anning (安宁市) on Kunming's western periphery.
Several local media reports are describing the fire as "under control", but as of 4:20pm today the blaze, which has reportedly already destroyed a relatively small 67 hectares of forest, has not been extinguished. No casualties have been reported in Yimen or Anning.
Kunming Party Secretary Zhang Tianxin (张田欣) visited the front lines of the firefighting on Monday morning. In his first three months as the city's top official, Zhang has repeatedly emphasized the direct and indirect threats posed to the city by three successive years of drought.
In addition to firefighters and soldiers, bulldozers and other construction equipment have been mobilized to dig trenches and clear flammable underbrush. On Monday a firefighting helicopter flew from Dali to the fire, where it dumped water from above in an effort to assist the people on the ground.
The fire is the second blaze near Kunming to require emergency response in the last five weeks. In early February a two-day mountain fire in Yuxi destroyed more than 40 hectares before it was extinguished by thousands of firefighters.
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