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Million-dollar anti-fire system failed to prevent blaze that ravaged China tourist town

Authorities say a fire safety system costing more than $1 million wasn't functioning and failed to prevent a blaze that razed an ancient tourist town in southwest China.

The Deqen prefecture fire brigade said on its microblog Monday that the system in Dukezong had been shut down to prevent pipes from bursting in the below-freezing temperatures. The service said the system was installed in 2011 at a cost of 8 million yuan ($1.3 million).

In addition to the system's failure, the low temperatures lowered water pressure in hydrants when the fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

The wooden houses burned quickly, while fire trucks were unable to penetrate narrow streets and alleys.

Tourism is virtually the only industry in the traditional Tibetan region.