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South Morning China Post, January 15, 2013

Smog or smoke? Zhejiang factory fire burns for three hours before residents notice

By Ami Li

A furniture factory in China’s Zhejiang province became the latest victim to the heavy smog that has blanketed Beijing and several provinces and municipalities in northern and eastern China in the last few days.

The fire that engulfed the 1,000 sq m factory around midnight on Monday went unnoticed for three hours. It was hard for residents to tell the smoke from the smog, reported Xinhua state agency on Monday.

When the residents finally reported the fire three hours later, it was already out of control.

It took firefighters 10 hours to put out the blaze, which had destroyed a large number of ready-made furniture, said Xinhua.

Beijing authorities on Tuesday have closed 100 chemical plants, construction sites and factories temporarily or cut back production to curb the worst air pollution in years. 

While Beijing’s municipal government said it was the worst smog in many years, provinces including Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Hebei have also reported worsening air quality in the past few days.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton