BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Forest fire control departments have been told to step up efforts to prevent fires during Spring Festival, China's State Headquarters for Forest Fire Control ordered on Thursday.
The risk of fires has increased as lasting drought and high temperatures in the country's southern regions has left large amounts of flammable debris in forest areas, said the headquarters.
The tradition of lighting firecrackers and fireworks, and burning incense and paper money in remembrance of the dead during Spring Festival also makes prevention more difficult, according to the headquarters.
The headquarters urged all related sectors to improve their emergency plans, improve leadership and strengthen coordination to ensure the safety of people and forests.
Authorities should step up monitoring systems and enforce every single measure to prevent forest fires. Departments should report severe forest fires immediately, it added.
It said people found responsible for forest fires would be punished severely.