A fire killed at least 22 people as it swept across grassland in south-western China’s Sichuan province, state media reported on Monday.

Local authorities sent 85 firefighters and dozens more workers and soldiers to tackle the blaze, which began early Sunday afternoon in Sichuan’s Dawu county, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The firefighting teams had almost extinguished the fire when heavy winds fanned it again later Sunday afternoon, trapping some of the soldiers and local residents, the agency said.

At least 22 people died, including 15 soldiers, five villagers and two forestry workers.

At least four others were injured, including three in serious condition, it said.

The fire had scorched about 33 hectares of land and was still smouldering on another 15 hectares late Sunday, reports said.

Firefighting helicopters were on standby in case the fire flared up again on Monday.

Dawu county lies on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau and is mainly inhabited by ethnic Tibetans.

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