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The forest fire, which broke out Sunday, spread to Caopu Township/XINHUA

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Suspect arrested in SW China forest fire

The forest fire, which broke out Sunday, spread to Caopu Township/XINHUA

KUNMING, Mar 20 – Police have arrested a suspect linked to a forest fire that started in southwest China’s Yunnan province on Sunday, the local firefighting headquarters said on Tuesday.

According to the preliminary investigation, the suspect, who has yet to be identified, was charged with littering cigarette butts while performing electrical checks or maintenance work in the forest.

The forest fire was brought under control Tuesday morning thanks to the efforts of 2,200 people who had been fighting the fire since Sunday, the local firefighting headquarters said.

Firefighters remain at the scene, prepared for any potential emergencies, according to the provincial forest fire prevention headquarters.

The fire was at least 40 km from the downtown area of the provincial capital of Kunming, so it will not affect the inner city, it said.

Villagers from two villages near the scene of the fire are ready to be evacuated in case the situation takes a turn for the worse, but judging by the situation right now, their safety can be ensured, it said.

The fire, which broke out at 5:25 p.m. Sunday in Yimen county, raged despite overnight firefighting efforts and spread through the county’s mountainous forests to Caopu township in Anning, a county-level city on the outskirts of Kunming, on Monday, it said.

A severe drought has lingered in Yunnan for three consecutive years, causing water shortages for several million residents and creating fire risks.

Yunnan is China’s second most heavily-forested province, with a total forest coverage of 47 percent.

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