From AP 02.15.2004

China Store Fire Kills 51, Injures 71

BEIJING - A fire at a department store in northeastern China on Sunday killed 51 people, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

An additional 71 people suffered injuries, the agency said. The blaze was sparked on the second floor of a five-story shopping and entertainment complex, it said.

"It was an especially large fire," said Fang Wanyou, a government spokesman in the city of Jilin, where the fire broke out around 11:20 a.m.

Some 260 firefighters took four hours to extinguish the blaze, Xinhua said. Several firefighters were hospitalized with injuries sustained while fighting the blaze, Fang said.

The city, in Jilin province, is about 590 miles northeast of Beijing.