BEIJING (Reuters) – A forest fire that is threatening an LPG storage site and two petrol stations has killed 19 people, including 18 firefighters, in southwest China’s Sichuan province, state news agency Xinhua and city officials reported on Tuesday.
The fire started on Monday at a farm and spread to nearby mountains because of strong winds, burning 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) as of midnight that night, the report said. Xinhua did not say how the fire was started.
The fire now directly threatens major facilities in downtown Xichang, including a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage station, two gasoline stations, four schools and the city’s largest department store, Xichang’s city government said on its social media account.
Around 690,000 people live in the city, which is about 340 km (210 miles) southwest of provincial capital Chengdu.
Images and video released by Chinese state media showed smoke and flames creeping towards Xichang, with fire trucks lined up on a street dowsing trees to prevent the fire from advancing and burning nearby buildings.
More than 1,200 local residents have been evacuated due to the fire and more than 2,000 firefighters have been dispatched to put out the fire, Xinhua said.
(Reporting by Se Young Lee and Lusha Zhang; Editing by Tom Hogue)