Mekong forests on fire alert

 Mekong forests on fire alert

17 April 2008

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Viet Nam — More than 120,000 ha of forests in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are on fire alert after lengthy dry, hot weather has left forested areas parched.

The provincial forest protection departments say most areas are at alert level number five, though some are at four.

Most forests are cajeput forests in Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Long An, An Giang, Dong Thap and Hau Giang provinces.

The southernmost province of Ca Mau alone has 20,000ha of cajeput forests in U Minh Ha National Park on a number 5 fire alert, according to the Ca Mau Province Forest Protection Department.

Nguyen Quang Cua, head of the Ca Mau Province Forest Protection Department, said the humidity in the forests was falling rapidly.

“Even ash from a cigarette could cause a fire,” Cua said.

The Ca Mau Province Forest Protection Department has tightened measures on fire prevention and control in the 53,000ha cajeput forests in the U Minh Ha National Park.

The department has set up 142 firewatch towers and provided 52 water pumps and pipes, boats and an automobile. It has mobilised more than 4,200 people to patrol the forest round the clock.

Forest rangers and firefighting facilities can reach a forest fire spot within 10 minutes to extinguish a fire, Cua said.

The Mekong Delta has had about five forest fires over the dry season, but they were promptly extinguished and caused little damage.

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