Chinese bid farewell to dead firefighters

A deadly forest fire in Southwest China that claimed the lives of 30 people has been contained and authorities are seeking to honor the victims as martyrs.

Five helicopters and nearly 700 people were deployed to tackle the wildfire, which was completely contained as of midday Tuesday, an official surnamed Hou at China’s Ministry of Emergency Management’s press office, told the Global Times.

The fire broke out at around 6 pm on Saturday in a remote high-altitude forested area in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. An investigation has been launched to look into the cause, officials from Liangshan said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Due to the complex terrain, there are still areas that are burning, so it will be some time before it is fully extinguished,” Hou said.

The fire claimed the lives of 27 firefighters, with an average age of 23 and the youngest being just 18. Three local officials were also killed when the winds suddenly changed direction, fanning the flames and trapping the firefighters.

The bodies of 29 of the victims were transferred to a funeral parlor in Xichang, Liangshan, and one person was buried in his hometown according to the family’s wishes.

More than 10,000 people in Xichang lined the streets and some placed chrysanthemums, heart-shaped candles and white scarves on the road in tribute to the heroes.