Wildfires rage as China’s Chongqing suffers unrelenting record heat wave
The fires, which have been visible at night from parts of the downtown area, have swept forests and mountains around the mega city in recent days.
Since August 18, wildfires had broken out in multiple outlying districts, local authorities said. The municipality is home to more than 32 million people.
Municipal authorities have not yet reported any casualties and said the fires are being kept under control, according to an update on Tuesday morning.
More than 1,500 residents have been relocated to safe zones, while 5,000 firefighters, police, local officers and volunteers, and seven firefighting helicopters have been dispatched to help combat the blazes, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
As of Tuesday, all districts and counties in Chongqing have issued an order that forbids the usage of fire in the wild and activities that are prone to fires.
The fires in Chongqing were the result of “spontaneous combustion” mainly caused by extremely high temperatures, Bai Ye, a professor at China’s Forest and Grassland Fire Prevention and Extinguishing Research Center told state-run Beijing Daily.
Chongqing enacted an order for factories to suspend operations for seven days starting last Wednesday, according to state media.
High temperatures are not set to go anywhere yet.
On Tuesday morning, China issued a red alert heat warning, the highest of four color-coded levels, to at least 165 cities and counties across the country.
According to China’s Meteorological Administration, temperatures in these cities are expected to surpass 40 degrees Celsius in the next 24 hours.
Another 373 cities or counties across China issued the second-highest orange alert warning, the administration reported, stressing that temperatures above 37 degrees Celsius are expected in these cities in the next three days.
China’s Central Meteorological Observatory in a statement on Tuesday advised people to avoid outdoor activities during high temperature periods and limit work under hot conditions.
Chinese authorities have previously said more than 900 million people across the country have been affected by the heat wave this summer.
CNN’s Laura He and Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong contributed to this report.