From India Today:
A massive wildfire in Tibet’s Sichuan province killed 22 people, including Chinese soldiers during rescue operation on Sunday [December 5, 2010].
Of the 22 killed, 15 were soldiers, two workers with the grassland administration while five others were local civilians. Three others who sustained severe burn injuries were rushed to the hospitals, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The grassland fire, which spread fast, proved deadly when it trapped soldiers and local residents trying to put out the blaze. This is one of the highest casualties China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) suffered in recent times.
The wildfire was raging through a grassland atop a plateau in Daofu County, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, Sichuan province. Daofu sits in a forest-covered area at the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
About 33.3 hectare [82 acres] of the grassland was destroyed, while 13 hectare [32 acres] was still on fire. The fire broke out at noon and was brought under control around 3 pm. However, gusting winds reignited the flames and trapped people fighting the fire.
A string of deadly fires hit China in recent weeks as most parts of the country brace for a dry winter. Fifty-eight people were killed in a Shanghai high-rise fire on November 15.
Our sincere condolences to the families and co-workers.
UPDATE @ 10:45 a.m. MT, December 10
The Shanghai Daily has more details on how the firefighters were equipped, and how more funds are now being appropriated for firefighting in the area.