IN a scene resembling a Hollywood blockbuster, oil tanks exploded, victims were rescued from car crashes, and firefighters scaled multi-storey buildings with hi-tech equipment to get one message across - don't play with fire. The 500 firefighters were the cream of the force in Guangdong which on Friday launched the first provincial competition for firefighters since 1979. The firemen demonstrated their skills at the Training Field for the No 4 Fire Brigade in Tianhe District in front of about 200 government officials and senior firefighters from Beijing and other provinces. Guangdong has been plagued by fires in recent years despite its economic success. In Guangzhou alone, official figures show 39 people were killed and 21 injured in 209 fire-related accidents in the first nine months of this year. The economic losses were reckoned at more than 19 million yuan (HK$17.67 million). The two-hour show was breathtakingly realistic and broadcast live across the province, with firefighters risking their lives to put out flames. Some of the accident 'victims' were real people who lay on the ground while their colleagues blew up an oil tank less than 10 feet away. Zhang Jingyan, political commissar of the Guangdong fire-fighting bureau, said the province had had more casualties and higher financial losses than any other over the past 25 years. 'This has aroused the attention of the provincial Government . . . and we hope the competition, through live broadcast, can help raise public awareness of fire safety,' he added.