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China sends inspection groups to check forest, grassland fire safety

Updated: Apr 02,2020 09:49 PM    Xinhua

BEIJING — China's forest and grassland fire control command office dispatched six groups to inspect local fire prevention work, especially during the upcoming Tomb-sweeping Day period.

The inspection groups will travel to nine regions in the country, including Beijing, Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Shaanxi, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management on April 2.

They will check the fire prevention and control measures of local bureaus, the latest emergency plans, the garrison of firefighting teams and the preparation of firefighting materials.

The ministry also stressed learning lessons from the heavy casualties in forest firefighting and improving forest and grassland fire safety.

Nineteen people died in southwest China's Sichuan province while battling a forest fire earlier this week.

Another forest fire broke out in Southwest China's Yunnan province March 31 and had been put out as of April 2.

Chinese authorities demanded a high degree of attention to the prominent risks of fires in this season, while enhancing the monitoring and early warning systems to prevent large forest fires from happening.

The traditional Tomb-sweeping holiday, which falls on April 4 this year, is a time for Chinese people to mourn the dead and worship their ancestors by visiting tombs and making offerings. The tributes involve burning incense and joss paper.

From 2010 to 2019, over 97 percent of fires were triggered by human activities, with a large share linked to sacrificial and agricultural activities, field smoking and mountain cover burning for afforestation, said the ministry.

Experts said the dry conditions, large fuel load and flammable vegetation may also lead to more frequent fires during this season.

On April 1, China issued a red alert for forest fires, warning of "extremely high" fire risks for the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, and an orange alert for Beijing and the provinces of Hebei and Shanxi.