Saturday's fire at ancient city Dukezong, Shangri-La County
of the Tibetan Area in China's Yunnan Province,
burned down more than 250 houses.
Two thirds of the ancient city turned into ashes.
Local authorities mobilized nearly 2,000 people and
took over 10 hours to get the fire under control.
Commentators pointed out that, local government was keen on
developing on the ancient site for financial gains in recent years,
yet neglected to implement procedures for hazards such as fire.
Dukezong has 1,300 years of splendid history.
It is the largest and best preserved ancient Tibetan city.
It is however, a pile of ruins now.
The fire happened in the early hours of Jan. 11.
Ms Wu, owner of a hotel in the city, told NTD,
"Ruyi Hotel and Restaurant, located at the lower section
of the city caught fire first.
"Fire trucks arrived 30 minutes after the call.
As a result, a gas pipe explosion caused the fire to
spread more rapidly."
Ms Wu: "Houses on many streets were burned.
All houses were built with wood.
With a little wind, the whole area was on fire.
"There was no way to put the fire out..
There was no water in the water hydrant.
"Else it would not have been on fire for so long.
People are OK though, but there is serious property damage."
According to the media, about one square kilometer of the
1.5 square kilometers of Dukezong city, was hit by fire.
Local authorities mobilized nearly 2,000 people,
over 10 excavators and 39 fire engines.
It took more than 10 hours to put the fire out.
Government officials in the Diqing Area said, preliminary
statistics indicate the fire affected 335 family's,
destroying 242 houses in the Cangfang, Jinglong and
The fire also caused economic losses of at least 100 million yuan
( approximately US$ 16,547,300), including relics,
thangkas (Buddhist deity paintings on silk) & other works of art.
Renowned Tibetan writer Woeser said, "This old Tibetan town
was already destroyed due to high commercialization.
It is not really an ancient city any more."
Woeser: "There is not any house with over 1,000 years history.
There are some temples around the burned area.
"They were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Shangri-La's largest monastery Songzanling Temple, was
smashed during the Cultural Revolution and was rebuilt later.
"So there is no real ancient city with over 1,000
years of history."
Woeser said, "This old city was called "Jietang" in Tibetan,
later renamed as Zhongdian.
"In 2001 local government changed it to Shangri-La,
in order to meet the needs of tourism."
Woeser: "It later changed its name to Shangri-La.
This place is actually a highly commercialized area now.
"I visited the area seven to eight times.
There are all kinds of buildings that are hotels, stores & bars.
In fact, all the so-called ancient cities are now like that."
Dukezong is the so-called important town along the
"Tea And Horse Road."
In 2001 it was approved by the authorities as a
historical and cultural city of Yunnan.
Commentator Xing Tianxing pointed out, the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) built a commercialized
so-called ancient city, with the banner of folk culture.
Xing Tianxing: "Safety hazards, amongst others,
were not the focus of CCP.
"Reportedly, it caused 100 million yuan of economic loss.
If there really were historical relics in there,
then the cost is innumerable."
Xing Tianxing: "While mourning over the fire,
we should realize that Chinese culture will disappear
along with the commercialization process.
"If we continue to blindly develop tourist areas instead of
protecting such places,
"the true cultural heritage of over 1,000 years will be gone."
Woeser cited in her recent blog, frequent fires have occurred
in Tibet in the past year. For example:
Zere Temple fire on Dec. 29, 2012 at Longzhen Xinlong County,
also other areas in Tibet, burning over 120 rooms, including
the retreat center and classrooms.
The Buddhist Institute was totally destroyed except for the hall.
Tibetan Area that
The fire at Gatuo Temple on May 4, 2013 also in the
Tibetan area of Baiyu County,
burned dozens of shag (textiles) & other Buddhist relics.
The fire at Litang Temple on Nov. 16, 2013,
was also in the Tibetan area. It destroyed the central hall.
Some monks were injured whilst they rescued relics.
On Jan. 9, 2014 Sichuan, Ganzi, Tibetans area
La Rong, Wu Ming Buddhist Institute was also on fire.
Also,over 200 houses were burned, some monks yet again injured.
Just two days later, on Jan. 11 2014,
Yunnan Dukezong Ancient City, was on fire yet again.