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6 Villagers Killed Fighting Forest Fire in C China

Six villagers were killed while trying to put out a forest fire in central China's Hunan Province on Saturday, local forestry authority confirmed.

The inferno occurred around 2:00 PM in the Xitai Village in Chenzhou City, where the recent snowstorm has severely damaged the power grid.

More than 200 were trapped when the forest fire broke out. The six villagers volunteered to join the firefighting with local firefighters.

Hunan has reported more than 200 forest fires in the last two days, and the forest department has been put on the highest level of alert, said Hu Changqing, vice head of the Hunan Forestry Department.

He attributed the grave situation to the many fallen trees in forests ravaged by the worst winter storms in 50 years, the dry weather and illegal fire uses in the forest.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2008)

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