Southeastern region faces high risk of forest fires

Southeastern region faces high risk of forest fires

20 March 2010

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Vietnam —  Forests in some southeastern provinces are at extremely high risk of catching fire as the hot and dry weather is prolonged in the region, authorities have warned.

Dozen of hectares of cajuput forest in Dong Nai Province’s An Phuoc Commune, Long Thanh District, caught fire on Thursday afternoon, but residents and firefighters were able to put it out at around 4pm.

Another fire occurred the same day at a thinly inhabited 10-ha area near the Ong Keo Industrial Park (Nhon Trach District) in the same province.

The fire threatened to spread to the gasworks that supplies gas for the Nhon Trach 2 thermal power plant. However the fire was extinguished the same night due to great efforts from the local firefighters.

They used bulldozers to clear the area in order to stop the fire from spreading to the plant.

In addition to Dong Nai Province, Ba Ria-Vung Tau has more than 20,000ha of forests that are at high risk of fire, the province’s Forest Management Department has said.

Fires in Ba Ria-Vung Tau would be very difficult to manage because three-fourths of the forest area in the province are located in mountainous areas and are difficult for firefighters to reach, it warned.

Local authorities have warned residents that a careless gesture like throwing a lit cigarette, or burning votive paper or incense in these areas could set off forest fires, which is difficult to control.

The forests of northern Central Highlands have been declared a high fire risk following the recent hot, dry weather with fires already destroying 100ha in Kon Tum Province on Tuesday.

It was the tenth forest fire in the province since this year’s dry season began. Fire burnt more than 130ha of forest in Gia Lai Province last Sunday.

Slash-and-burn farming was also blamed for forest fires, exacerbated by land shortage and soft laws, said Nguyen Van Tien, deputy head of inspection office of Kon Tum province’s Forest Management Department.

Weak fire prevention and poor equipment worsened the problem, he said.

At present, thousands of hectares of forests in all five Central Highlands provinces are prone to fires.

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