Vietnam — As many as 14 fires have destroyed over 50ha of forest in central Ha Tinh province over the last three weeks.
“The number of fires was not higher than the dry season last year, but the level of damage was worse,” said deputy head of the provincial Forest Management Department Han Duy Anh.
The damage was “especially” bad in Vu Quang district, Anh said, where a fire damaged nearly 20ha of pine forest in Lien Hoa and Lien Chau hamlets, Duc Lien commune on Wednesday.
It took firelighters several hours to control the blaze because of difficult terrain between the two hamlets.
The same day, eight more hectares of pine forest at Huong Khe Rubber Company’s Phuong Dien Farm in an area bordering Vu Quang and Huong Khe districts went up inflames, causing damage worth VND200 million (US$11,400.
Also that day, another fire blazed in forest owned by farmer Phan Manh Chien in Son Thuy commune, Huong Son district. Over three hours, the blaze razed 6ha of eight-year-old cajeput forest which had been ready for exploitation, according to Chien.
“The fire cost us several hundreds of millions of dong and has pushed my family into debt,” he said.
The fires were believed to have been caused by high temperatures of 39 to 40 degrees Celsius, strong winds and prolonged droughts, deputy head Anh said.
The province has not seen rain for over a month.
However, according to initial findings from the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department, the blaze in Pho Chau township was caused by a fire in the local rubbish dump.
Nguyen Van An, head of Ngan Pho Protective Forest Management Board said his team were looking after 17ha of pine forests around the rubbish dump.
The board asked the local People’s Committee to prevent more rubbish being dumped at the ground. Fires at the area have been banned pending further investigation.
The provincial People’s Committee on Saturday held an urgent meeting on how to handle the fires.
The body asked local authorities, forest managers and relevant agencies to make inspections on areas at high-risk of fires.
Local residents have been banned from burning coal, rubbish and bee hives in cajeput trees to collect honey.
The body also said localities would have to take responsibility and bear all fire-fighting costs if a fire broke out.
The meeting heard that the province was on high alert as high temperatures heightened the risk of fire over the next few days.
According to deputy head Anh, the province had intensified teams of inspectors and provided fire fighting equipment to forest fire-prone areas in an effort to extinguish fires early.