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"Let's Solve the Wildfires Together as a Community" | Dr. Frank Stonier

By JAMES ALEXANDERSHIHAN YANGDENG, YANICHONGQING|Aug 26,2022

Chongqing– In recent weeks, a glut of major wildfires have broken out upon mountainsides located in nine districts across the municipality, as a record-breaking heatwave combined with severe drought have rendered the landscape tinder dry. The low water levels have drastically reduced the energy output of hydroelectric dams. This has forced commercial centers to restrict opening hours, and lights across the city have been turned off to preserve electrical supplies.

Dr. Frank Stonier is a teacher at Southwest University in the Beibei District, where fires have blazed on nearby mountains of Jinyun and Hutou. As fire crews and volunteers strive to keep the wildfires under control, the decision to clear a 60-meter-wide barrier on the mountain required a team equipped with chainsaws to fell trees. Since most volunteers were unfamiliar with how to assemble and use chainsaws effectively, Frank shared his previous knowledge and expertise.

Unexpectedly, this selfless gesture was captured on mobile phone cameras by touched locals as Frank made his way up the mountain on the back of a motorbike with a chainsaw. The videos shared on Douyin, and other platforms drew wide praise from local people in Chongqing, moved by his sincere contribution towards fighting the blazes on this mountain residents hold so dear.

In an interview with iChongqing yesterday, Frank shared his experience, “I spent the bulk of the day helping assemble new chainsaws out of the box, making sure they were safe for use, properly fueled and oiled, with the chain tension and direction adjusted correctly. In the late afternoon, chainsaw teams were assembled, and we headed for the mountain.”

Jinyun Fire

Firefighters and volunteers combat the blaze upon Jinyun Mountain while a 60-meter-wide barrier has been cleared (Photograph- James Alexander)

Due to safety and communication concerns, the military commander eventually decided not to have Frank battle the fires directly. The contribution of showing how to assemble and use chainsaws correctly had already made a significant difference.

Looking back, Frank was glad enough to have made a significant contribution and expressed his willingness to help anytime should the need arise. “This was the first time in my life I got to race through town and up a mountain on the back of a motorcycle carrying a chainsaw. I wish I could have done more, but I did my best.”

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