BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- A fire that started on Saturday morning, destroyed a large part of an ancient town in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Dukezong town in Shangri-la County is known for its well-preserved Tibetan dwellings, and is a popular tourist destination. It suffered significant damage in the blaze. While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, it appears that local fire fighting and fire prevention measures weren't up to the mark.
This thousand-year-old ancient town was nothing but a blaze for hours. History of a thousand years, burnt to a cinder. A small hotel named Ruyi is located at the east of the ancient town. This is exactly where the fire firstly broke out.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, local authorities estimate that almost two thirds of Dukezong town has been destroyed.
It's been nearly thirty hours since the fire was put out on Saturday. But as I enter this burned out building I can still feel warm in here. And when you touch this wall, it feels warm.
Many are asking why the blaze continued for as long as nine hours.
Local officials say the reason is the wooden structures of most houses here and the tight spaces in between them. This also made fighting the fire even harder. The dry climate and strong winds also contributed.
However, many locals are saying they found most fire hydrants in the ancient town had no water at all when the fire broke out.
"After the fire broke out, I used pliers and a hammer to open the nearest four wooden boxes, which house the fire hydrants. But all the four fire hydrants turned out to have no water or even a connection to a water pipe," said Duan Genyuan, a witness.
Local authorities said there are 122 fire hydrants in the ancient town. They say the sub-zero temperatures might have led to some of them freezing.
"Since December last year, the town has been experiencing very low temperatures for a number of days. Some fire hydrants might have frozen over that time," said Long Jiaping from the fire department of Dukezong Management Commitee.
But the question is, why no one noticed and why wasn't any anti-freeze used?
As of late Sunday, neither the fire department of Shangri-la county or that of the municipal and provincial administration had any response to the efficiency of the fire facilities in this ancient town.