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Premier Wen urges extinguishing forest fire in NE China quickly

    BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered mobilizing more forces to put out a forest fire in the Greater Hinggan Mountains in northeast China "as soon as possible".

    The blaze was spotted at about 11 a.m. on Thursday in an area of virgin forest in the Oroqen Autonomous Banner of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, bordering Heilongjiang Province.

    A total of 2,630 people and 18 helicopters are currently at the site combating the fire, while another 2,040 people are heading to the area as reinforcing force, according to officials with the national forest fire prevention headquarters.

    By noontime Saturday, the fire at the western front of the blazing area has been brought under control, while blazes and smoke were still spotted in the north, east, and south.

    The national forest fire prevention headquarters said it would send more people to the site if necessary and asked fire fighters to concentrate their efforts at night when the temperature is low and the wind is mild.

    No casualties have been reported. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

    Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Friday also asked local authorities to assign enough manpower to put out the fire as soon as possible while ensuring the safety of fire fighters and local residents.

    Lei Jiafu, vice director of the State Forestry Administration and vice commander-in-chief of the national forest fire prevention headquarters, has arrived at the scene to coordinate the fire-fighting efforts.

    Experts said most areas in China would experience high temperature and little rainfall this autumn and winter, which could make the woods more vulnerable to fire risks.

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