Beijing [China], August 7 (ANI): A 900-year-old wooden arch bridge known as the Wan'an bridge in China was engulfed in fire on Saturday night, leading to the collapse of the longest wooden arch bridge in the country.
The ancient bridge was built in the Song Dynasty (960-1127) in Pingnan county in east China's Fujian Province. Experts suspect that the incident was not a natural disaster and called for the enhancement of protection of ancient architecture, Global Times reported.
An ancient architecture expert of Peking University, Xu Yitao said, "I speculate it was likely to be caused by man-made conduct and not a natural disaster, the spontaneous combustion of the bridge on the water is rare."
Although the open fires of the bridge had been put out in around 10 hours, the 900-year-old wood bridge's body has been burnt to collapse during the first 20 minutes of fire, as Xu noted, its unique wooden structure made it even more susceptible to damage by the fire.
The Wan'an bridge also known as the Bridge of Universal Peace, was China's longest wood arch bridge ranging from 98.2 metres.
It holds significant cultural value as it shows ancient Chinese mastered wisdom and ingenuities in wooden architecture designs, especially when the wooden arch bridge prototype in such a length was extremely difficult to manifest, Global Times reported.
"Bridges are often made of stones, the wooden arch bridge condenses a lot of Chinese ancient wisdom, techniques and also the economic thinking of choosing the wood material."
"It was a lost example to prove the Chinese wisdom on wooden architecture like the one you see from the art piece 'Along the River During the Qingming Festival," Xu remarked.
The head of China Cultural Relics Academy and former curator of the Palace Museum, Shan Jixiang said, "Fire prevention is one of the important works needed for protecting ancient wooden architectures."
However, no casualties were reported in the fire but the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Criminal Investigation Department of the Pingnan County Public Security Bureau has stepped in for the case's further inquiry.
In similar incidents, before the Wan'an bridge, in 2021, the Wengding village, the last primitive tribe of China in Southwest China's Yunnan Province was engulfed by fire after an 8-year-old child was playing with fire in the village.
In 2019, France's most famous cultural landmark Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris had also been swallowed by fires that alarmed world conservation for ancient architecture, Global Times reported.
"It can be said that nowadays, such disasters on ancient architectures are unavoidable, especially when they still engage with people's activities," ancient architecture expert Xu noted.
An architectural archaeologist in Wuhan, Xiao Fangping said, "The more effective way to protect such architectural relics is human-being oriented. The public should be more conscious of how we behave. This is related to public education on such relic values. Conserving them is not merely a researcher's job." (ANI)