Fire Out of China

Spring winds come early and stay late in the Daxing'anling mountains. But residents of the area, nestled along China's northeastern border, know the breeze that refreshes can also be a formidable enemy. Over the past 20 years, there have been 880 reported forest fires in the area, most of them small and controllable.

Not this time. A blaze that broke out three weeks ago continues to rage and is the worst conflagration ever faced by the Communist government. The inferno has already killed more than 200 people and seriously injured an additional 221. Despite the valiant efforts of approximately 40,000 soldiers...