January 14

Fire destroys ancient town in China’s Shangri-La

Dukezong dates back more than 1,000 years and is known for its cobbled streets, ancient structures and Tibetan culture.

The Associated Press

BEIJING — A fire prevention system costing more than $1 million wasn’t functioning and failed to prevent a blaze that razed an ancient tourist town in southwest China, the fire service said Monday.

click image to enlarge

Firefighters put out embers Saturday at the ancient town of Dukezong in Shangri-la, a resort county in southwest China’s Yunnan province.

The Associated Press

The system in Dukezong had been shut down to prevent pipes from bursting in the below-freezing temperatures, the Deqen prefecture fire brigade said on its microblog.

In addition, the freezing temperatures lowered water pressure in hydrants when the fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The wooden houses burned quickly, while fire trucks were unable to penetrate narrow streets.

The official Xinhua News Agency said investigators had determined that the fire started at an inn when a faulty electrical outlet set a curtain on fire.

Tourism is virtually the only industry in the traditional Tibetan region. The ancient quarter of Dukezong dates back more than 1,000 years and is known for its cobbled streets, ancient structures and Tibetan culture.

The fire raged for nearly 10 hours and destroyed 242 structures. About 2,600 people were left homeless, although no casualties were reported.

The county surrounding Dukezong renamed itself Shangri-La in 2001, referencing the mythical Himalayan land described in James Hilton’s 1933 novel.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)