Dukezong, Ancient Tibetan Town, Destroyed By Fire After 10-Hour Blaze

Dukezong, a popular tourist destination in southwest China, has been destroyed by a fire that blazed for over 10 hours.

The incident occurred on Sunday morning, and hundreds of homes were burned to the ground, which lead to 2,600 people being evacuated from the region.

Dukezong is located in Shangri-La, in the Yunnan Province, and the fire continued to rage for such a length of time because fire engines were unable to access the area's narrow streets.

This meant that residents were forced to try and tackle the fire themselves, and they lined the streets with their own buckets of water which they then threw over the blaze.

It's believed to have started in a guesthouse, but it then spread through the area quickly, and local media reports have now confirmed that Dukezong has been completely ravaged by the tragedy.

Early estimations have predicted that over $15 million of damage has been caused, and over 240 houses and shops have now been reduced to rubble. Close to 3,000 residents from Dukezong are believed to have been affected too.

Witnesses have admitted that they were woken up the sound of a loud explosion, and when they went to examine what caused such a ruckus they found that the town, which was predominantly made up of wooden abodes, was in flames.

One inhabitant of Dukezong, He Yu, stated, "The fire was huge, the wind was blowing hard, and the air was dry. I was scared because my home is a little distance away from the ancient town. It kept burning, and the firefighters were there, but there was little they could do because they could not get the fire engines onto the old town's narrow streets."

The fire is believed to have started at 1:30am, and it continued to persist for over 10 hours. It was finally brought under control at around 11am this morning thanks to the effort and toil of around 2,000 firefighters, soldiers, police officers, local officials and volunteers.

Shangri-La's old town region, Dukezong, is over 1,300 years old, and is the home of the largest and best preserved Tibetan sanctuary in China.

It recently underwent an extensive renovation in order to boost tourism, which saw a hoard of guesthouses and shops built to entice visitors.

The area, which was previously called Gyaitang Zong, changed its name to Shangri-La in 2001. This was a reference to James Hilton's 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, which was set in a fictional utopian lamasery high up in the Tibetan mountains.