A major fire burned 59 wooden houses, causing 258 villagers to be without shelter, in an ethnic minority village located in Dong Autonomous County in central China’s Hunan Province. The blaze, which broke out in the morning of Aug. 5, will cost $1.1 million in direct economic losses, according to Jingzhou County authorities.
Firefighters were unable to access sufficient water to extinguish the fire.
The fire, which lasted for five hours in Jiangkou Village and affected over 70 homes, was caused by aging wiring and electrical circuits that were overloaded when a villager used a water pump to irrigate his fields. No casualties were reported, said Hunan’s newspaper, Xiaoxiang Morning Herald.
But a villager who happens to be a member of the local ethnic minority said that the fire was due mainly to high temperature and drought. Some villagers were injured, he said.
‘Scary and Devastating’
Mr. Liu, a doctor at Zhaiya Township Hospital located in Jingzhou County of Huaihua City, described the scene: “This is the biggest fire I have ever seen. It’s very scary and devastating. It was quite windy and the flames spread fast within the village. There was a newly built house completely burnt out there.”
“Some six or seven patients are being treated in my hospital, while those with more serious injuries have been transported to a county hospital,” he added.
Firefighters could not get access to the scene and had to park their vehicles some distance away in order to pump water from a nearby river to their storage tanks. However, they couldn’t get enough water to fight the fire, relying on the blaze to burn itself out, according to Liu.
Another witness, Mr. Huang, said that the fire started from a wooden house situated at ground level and shortly thereafter, all the nearby wooden structures caught fire as the wind was blowing upwards.
Houses in the village are mostly built on stilts in the traditional architecture of the Miao and Dong ethnic minority groups, adjoining each other. The majority of the homes are made of tar sands, often referred to as oil sands, a highly inflammable material.
The estimated economic loss of US$1.1 million is calculated by the total assets’ original cost basis, so the actual cost of rebuilding these homes will be surely more than that figure, said the villagers.
What worries the villagers most is when their homes will be rebuilt and how they can secure their basic needs—food, clothing, daily necessities, and housing. Jingzhou County head said, new homes are likely to be completed before January 2014.
An Epoch Times reporter called Zhaiya Township authorities to ask for the disaster and the rebuilding plan, a staff member, who refused to identify himself, replied that local leaders were at work on the issues and he was unable to answer any specific questions.
Translated by Euly Luo. Written in English by Gary Pansey.
Read the original Chinese article.