Fire has partially destroyed an ancient Tibetan town in China's Shangri-La county, with more than 1,000 firefighters deployed to tackle the blaze.

The fire started on Saturday morning in Dukezong, which dates back 1,300 years and is famous for its cobbled streets and wooden houses.

He Yu, a resident, said she woke to loud, explosion-like sounds.

"The fire was huge. The wind was blowing hard, and the air was dry. I was scared because my home is a little distance away from the ancient town,'' she told news agency AP.

"It kept burning, and the firefighters were there, but there was little they could do because they could not get the fire engines onto the old town's narrow streets."

Local authorities said more than 100 houses were destroyed and that firefighters, police and volunteers tried to bring the 10-hour blaze under control.

There was no immediate report of casualties, and the cause of the fire was unclear, although a provincial news site said it started in a guesthouse on an old street.

Chinese state media said most structures in Dukezong were made of wood and the fire spread easily because of dry weather.

Shangri-La county was once called Gyaitang Zong but changed its name in 2001.

Source: AP