Forest fires spreading at alarming rate in north

Forest fires spreading at alarming rate in north

05 March 2010

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Vietnam —   Vietnam’s northern mountainous region has seen an outbreak of severe forest fires over the last few days, with many blazes yet to be brought under control.

The central steering committee for forest protection, and fire prevention and fighting, said March 4 that persistent hot, dry weather has been the main cause of the fires.

A particularly large inferno broke out March 3 in Tan Duong District of Lai Chau Province.

The fire started around noon in Can Ho village, Khum Ha Commune. The area’s terrain together with strong winds sent the fire quickly up a nearby mountain, destroying over 6 hectares of regenerative forest. The fire was finally stamped out around midnight.

The same day, another fire raged day and night in Son Binh Commune. Over 200 army officials and soldiers in the province, in addition to commune residents, worked to contain the blaze. The amount of damage to the area has yet to be determined.

On the evening of the day, two more fires occurred in the province’s Tan Uyen District.

In Son La Province, meanwhile, a blaze broke out at Ta Xua Natural Reserve on the night of March 2. The inferno has been spreading to bordering forests in Yen Bai Province.

The Son La Province Forest Management Sub-department said flames began on a mountain bordering the two provinces. The scorching weather together with strong winds then blew the fire to the nature reserve.

It is estimated that so far, 40-50 hectares of forest have been destroyed in the area. As of 5pm March 4, the inferno was still burning out of control.

By late afternoon on the same day, 19 localities were reported in extremely high danger of forest fires due to the hot, dry weather, which has lasted for several months, the Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

According to satellite data, Vietnam has recently experienced 176 forest fires.

In an urgent dispatch to provincial and city people’s committees, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat recently ordered officials to closely monitor and be ready to instruct on forest fire prevention and fighting.

Relevant officials should also strictly prevent local residents from burning high-risk forests to clear fields, he added.

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