Forest fires wreak havoc

Forest fires wreak havoc

03 May 2012

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Vietnam — DA NANG — Forest fires blamed on the unseasonably hot weather have devastated swathes of forestry and agricultural land across the country.

An estimated 30ha of forest on Hai Van Mountain Pass in Lien Chieu District in Da Nang was destroyed by fire yesterday.

The blaze was first discovered by rangers at 2pm yesterday in section 4A of eucalyptus forest. It quickly spread to section 11 on the top of Hai Van Mountain pass, 30km north of Da Nang city centre.

About 500 soldiers, fire-fighters and local militia were mobilised to contain the fire, which was expected to continue into the next day.

“It’s so hard for us to approach the fire because the forest is more than 1,000m above sea level. This has prevented fire-fighters and rescuers from gaining access to the area,” deputy head of Lien Chieu district’s forest ranger section Phan Van Rong said.

“The fire is particularly serious because the forest is near an airfield and an ammunition depot left over from the American War,” he said, after hearing an explosion.

According to local rangers, the fire could get out of control if it reached a nearby pine tree forest and Lien Chieu oil storage depot.

Dang Thanh Quan, a militiaman who joined in the rescue, said he was unable to get near the fire because of the inhospitable terrain.

“It took us two hours to approach the fire. The best we can do at the moment is just to prevent the blaze from spreading,” Quan said.

Fire-fighters are currently digging a 2km trench to isolate the fire.

Meanwhile, the city’s administration has warned neighbouring Thua Thien-Hue Province to ready itself in case the fire crosses the provincial border.

A ranger from Lien Chieu District blamed the fire on the recent heat wave.

Meanwhile, another fire has broken out in northern Bac Giang Province’s Yen Lu Commune. It has so far destroyed 6 ha.

The local authorities said 10-year-old trees that included pines, eucalyptus and acacia had been destroyed. By yesterday evening, fire-fighters had yet to put out the blaze.

In the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang’s Bac Quang District, 12ha of forest has been destroyed by fire, which was extinguished yesterday morning.

The fire, which started on Tuesday evening, was allegedly caused by an ethnic family who were attempting to clear land for cultivation.

A fire also occurred in the central province of Quang Ngai’s Son Tinh District yesterday, damaging 2ha of sandalwood forest.

According to Quang Ngai Fire Prevention and Fighting Department, the recent hot weather had helped the fire to spread.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting has recorded the historical peak hot temperature in the northern mountain province of Lao Cai yesterday.

The average temperature in the province was reported at 40 to 41 degree Celsius.

The high mountain Sa Pa Town’s temperature was hit by the recorded 29 degree Celsius. In lower areas, the outside temperature was 43 to 45 degree Celsius while the humidity decreased to 25 to 30 per cent. This was marked as the highest level in the last 55 years.

The hot weather has put the region in the high risk of fire. Many hectares of corn and bean fields have suffered withered-leaf.

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