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Forest fire rages in southwest China, 800 evacuate

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Beijing, Apr 6: A forest fire raging for more than a week has forced 800 people to evacuate a southwestern Chinese village as Beijing ordered a high alert in areas of the country plagued by drought, state media said.

Three villagers were injured by the fire that broke out last Wednesday in a town just 28 km (17 miles) from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, the China Daily said today.

''About 6,000 people have been mobilised to fight the fire, which has been fed by a prolonged drought and windy weather,'' it said.

The Yunnan fire follows three blazes in the northern province of Shanxi in late March which were eventually put out.

China's State Council, or cabinet, issued an urgent notice on Tuesday ordering provinces in the north, northeast and southwest -- which have seen severe rainfall declines this spring -- to be on high alert and prepare for fires, Xinhua news agency said.

Firefighters were cutting a 50-metre-wide fire break over 53 km to prevent the Yunnan blaze from spreading, the China Daily said. It said police had detained a young woman as a suspected arsonist.

REUTERS

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