International Operation Name: not applicable

International Operation Dates:  not applicable

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name:  Asia

Location:  China

Canadian Operation Name: Operation DRAGON BREATH

Canadian Operation Dates: 1987/06/01 – 1987/06/08

Mission Mandate:

To deliver fire-fighting equipment to China

Mission Notes:

Northern China and southern Siberia contain one of the largest contiguous forests.  The winter of 1986-1987, and the following spring, were abnormally dry, and the risk of fire was consequently extraordinarily high. On 6 May 1987 a Chinese logger accidentally started a fire while refuelling a brush cutter – a fire that would burn for a month and became known as the Great Black Dragon Fire.

On 7 May, with high winds fanning the flames, local officials asked the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) for help.  Over 40,000 members of the PLA were eventually employed to fight the fire.  Surprisingly, only about 220 people died; however, 50,000 people were left homeless and over 3,000,000 acres (1.3 million hectares) were destroyed – one fifth of China’s forest reserves.  An even larger fire raged on the Russian side of the Amur, destroying an estimated 9 to 15 million acres.

At the request of the Canadian International Development Agency, 436 Squadron delivered 10 tonnes of fire fighting equipment to Beijing in a mission that left on 1 June and returned to Trenton on 8 June.


Mr. Yang Shangkun, Vice Chairman of the central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China meets with Mr. Perrin Beatty, Minister of National Defence.

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