Parts of the Panda Base erupted in flames Friday evening.
Over 50 tons of discarded, dry bamboo burned over an area of 7,000 square meters before firefighters extinguished the flames.
The flames were contained by 10 p.m., but the burning continued until 2 in the morning.
Because this bamboo can't be used to feed the pandas, the base generally piles it here before it is hauled away. This time the bamboo had been sitting for three months. Because it is a known fire hazard, the area is enclosed in such a way that the fire will not spread easily.
No casualties or damage was reported.
Nonetheless, the fire has raised questions about the base's safety practices in terms of bamboo disposal.
The base, which was built in the 1980s, has always struggled to dispose of the large quantity of inedible bamboo. Every day, about 2 tons of these "leftovers" need to be discarded. This waste is periodically hauled to a waste-disposal site in Longquanyi. The cost for hauling this waste adds up to over RMB200,000 per year.
This was the third time the bamboo discards have caught fire.
Just 20 meters from the site of the burning sits a warehouse, and firefighters were concerned that the flames would spread to this structure.
As a result, the base has vowed to monitor its bamboo-disposal practices more carefully than before and make adjustments as necessary.
Various paper-manufacturing plants just outside of Chengdu have discussed taking the bamboo as raw materials, but because the cost of transporting the bamboo to Longquanyi is lower, the base continues to dump it there.
The fire department is still looking into how the fire ignited.