At least 19 people including firefighters and one forestry guide have reportedly died while fighting a huge forest fire in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan.
According to state media reports, the blaze started on Monday at a farm and spread to nearby mountains because of strong winds, burning 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres). It is, however, unclear how the fire started.
Xichang’s city government said in a statement that 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.
Around 690,000 people live in the city, which is about 340 km (210 miles) southwest of provincial capital Chengdu. In total, over 2,000 emergency workers are involved in rescue efforts to contain the blaze and more than 1,200 local people have been evacuated.