A forest fire in the mountains of Sichuan province has taken the lives of 30 people. According to a report by China News Weekly, the forest fire broke out around 5pm on March 30 in Muli county.
Twenty-seven firefighters and three local officials were killed as they fought the flames. The lost service members were confirmed dead on April 1 and their bodies have been retrieved, according to BBC.
In total, 700 firefighting personnel were dispatched to extinguish the massive blaze in the mountains of the western Chinese province.
A ceremony was held today at a square in Xicang city in Sichuan to mourn those who lost their lives in the fire, and national flags in the city were lowered to show condolences. The 30 deceased members of the Sichuan Fire Control Corps were later honored with the title of martyr by the Sichuan Provincial Government.
The majority of those lost in the flames were very young, with 18 of the victims aged under 22 and two just 19 years old. Fan Maokui, a professor at the Emergency Management Department of Fire Fighting College, speaking to China News Weekly, stated that under the firefighting services’ previous recruitment system, 60 percent of China’s firefighters would come from the military and enroll at the age of 18, serving for a total of four years. In other words, they were neither experienced, nor professionally trained.
That previous method of recruitment was officially abolished in October 2018, but while new rules are now in place, there are still a number of young, untrained servicemen leftover from the previous system.
“Although the old system has been aborted and the country now has a long-term vision for the development of fire-fighting professionalism, local implementation will take time,” Fan said.
[Cover image via people.cn]