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Ancient Tibetan Town of Dukezong Destroyed After 10-Hour Fire

Updated on January 11, 2014

Dukezong on Fire

Fire Burns Atop Building

Building on Fire
Building on Fire | Source

Dukezong Neighborhood

What is it like to have over 1,000 years of culture destroyed overnight?

That is exactly what happened to hundreds of buildings in Dukezong, which is located in Shangri-La county, in southwest China.

The ten-hour Dukezong fire destroyed hundreds of buildings, many containing ancient Tibetan culture. The fire raged quickly from building to building, consuming everything in its path. Most of the buildings were made of wood, and the weather has been extremely dry, both being perfect conditions for an uncontrollable fire.

How did the fire start?

Local authorities claim that the Dukezong fire was unintentional, starting from a guesthouse, catching other buildings on fire. Therefore, no foul play is suspected at this time.

When did the fire start and end?

The fire started about 1:30 a.m. and was not controlled until around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2014; roughly about 10 hours.

How many people were affected?

Over 2,600 people were displaced because of the fire - which burned down hundreds of buildings. Some residents woke up to sounds of explosions, only to find out that Dukezong neighborhood was on fire.

Over 2,000 firefighters responded to the fire, but narrow streets kept many fire engines from reaching the inferno.

How many buildings were destroyed by the fire?

A total of 242 homes and shops were destroyed by the Dukezong fire. Many ancient artifacts were burnt in the blaze.

Media photos: High quality photos of the tragic Dukezong fire can be viewed here.

Brief History of Dukezong

Dukezong is a tourist community, located in Shangri-La County, geographically located in southwest China. The county was formerly named Gyaitang Zong, until 2001.

County Name Changed to Fictional Setting to Draw Tourists

Based on James Hilton's novel in 1933, they renamed the county Shangri-La County in 2001, in an attempt to draw tourists to the small town. In James Hilton's novel, Shangri-La was a mythical place located in the Himalaya mountains. Dukezong was then filled with many guesthouses and shops for tourists to visit, as part of their renovation.


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