.Lit cigarette ignited polluted river in Zhejiang province, eastern China
.The flames went up more than 16ft in the air before they were extinguished
.Locals blame factories and packaging firms upstream for pollution
A river in eastern China caught fire after years of pollution from factories upstream had turned it flammable.
The river had become so contaminated that it was set alight by a lit cigarette being thrown into the water.
The flames shot up more than 16ft into the air and had to be extinguished by firemen in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.
Local residents said that the river has been heavily polluted for years, as a result of oils and chemicals being released into the water by several shoe-making factories and packaging firms further upstream.
Despite this being common knowledge in the area, they say that the council’s environmental protection office have refused to take action against the polluting companies, as they are too important to the local economy.
Local woman Peng Tu, 38, said: ‘It was hardly a surprise that the river was flammable, the smell has been unbearable for years but no one has taken any notice. Perhaps now they might do something.’
The blaze was caused by a lit cigarette which was thrown into the water and and ignited the chemical residues floating on the surface, firemen said.
The flames which went up 16ft 4in into the air were high enough to set fire to a wooden railing around the river.
The fire also caught several cars that had been parked next to the pavement alongside the river, destroying them in the process.
Fireman had to use special foam fire extinguishers to put out the fire on the river’s surface. Police are now investigating where the chemicals might have come from…
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