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Ancient wooden bridge engulfed by blaze

By Zou Shuo | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-08 09:28

One of the longest ancient wooden bridges in China, located in Fujian province, collapsed on Saturday night after a fire broke out. No casualties or injuries were reported.

Wan'an Bridge, which has a history of more than 900 years, in the village of Changqiao in Pingnan county caught fire at around 9:10 pm. The blaze was put out by 10:45 pm, according to the local emergency management bureau.

The local authorities are looking into the cause of the incident and the public security bureau has started an investigation.

There are more than 50 wooden arch bridges in Pingnan. Measuring almost 100 meters long and 5 meters wide, Wan'an Bridge is the oldest and longest wooden bridge in the country.

According to China News Service, Pingnan county has set up special working groups to look into the incident and to try to restore the bridge.

A fire broke out on the bridge in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and it was rebuilt in 1742.

It was listed as a key national cultural relic in 2006. The construction of wooden arch bridges uses the most sophisticated techniques among all wooden bridges in China, and the techniques themselves were listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009.

A Changqiao village official told ThePaper.cn that although villagers tried to save the bridge, the fire was too big and it was destroyed in under 20 minutes.

The official said cultural relics managers regularly conducted inspections on the bridge.

Although uncommon, fires at cultural sites around the country do happen.

In 2014, a fire destroyed around 300 houses in Dukezong township in Shangrila county of Yunnan province. Dukezong, established more than 1,300 years ago, is known for its Tibetan-style architecture. The fire burned nearly a fifth of the ancient town's core preservation area.

In 2019, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and Ministry of Emergency Management issued a guideline on improving fire safety for cultural relics. It required museums and institutions with cultural relics to conduct fire safety patrols every two hours when open to the public.

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