Fire damages 1,000-year-old temple in east China, no casualties

Published: 08/02/2011 05:00



A 1,000-year-old building is believed to have been destroyed in a fire at a Buddhist temple in Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian Province, Monday.

Fire fighters try to put out fire at the buring Fahai Temple in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian Province, Feb. 7, 2011. Fire broke out in the ancient temple which enjoys more than a thousand years’ history at 3:00 a.m. on Monday. No casualty was reported in the fire. (Xinhua)

Local authorities confirmed the fire engulfed the grand hall and one of the wooden chambers of the Fahai Temple in downtown Fuzhou at 3:12 a.m. and burnt for an hour, but they have yet to assess the damage.

The fire prevention arm of Fuzhou’s public security bureau sent 21 fire engines and 147 firefighters to the scene, and the flames were put out at 4:11 a.m., a spokesman of the bureau said.

He said no casualties were reported and all the temple’s cultural relics were unharmed.

But photos of the scene posted online showed scarlet flames lighting up the night sky and licking up the temple’s grand hall. “I smelt an acrid smell and woke up,” said an Internet user who posted three photos at under the name “Pleasant Afternoon.”

The photos showed how the 1,000-year-old hall was destroyed by the flames. On the third photo, the hall had disappeared.

“Only a few charred pillars remained standing after the fire was put out,” said “Pleasant Afternoon”, who took the pictures from his apartment in a high-rise overlooking the temple.

Though the fire bureau spokesman said the cause of the fire was still under investigation, Internet users widely speculated the blaze was started by fireworks.

The posting by “Pleasant Afternoon” was followed by dozens of comments bombarding fireworks. “Fireworks should be banned in downtown areas,” many comments read.

The debate over whether festive explosives should be allowed has continued for at least two decades in China. Many big cities, including Beijing, banned fireworks in the mid 1990s, but were later forced to lift the ban by enthusiasts who claimed fireworks were an “inalienable part of Chinese culture.”

Fuzhou’s Fahai Temple was built in 945 and houses a large number of ancient Buddhist scriptures that are recognized as national treasures.


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