VIETNAM – 500 people were deployed to create firebreaks Saturday night to prevent a Nghe An forest fire spanning hundreds of hectares from spreading.
The fire, which broke out Friday night in the north-central province’s Dien Chau District, raged throughout Saturday night, engulfing a large area of 30-year-old pine trees in Dien Loi Commune. Strong winds made it difficult to approach the fire.
For safety reasons, authorities have instructed firefighting forces, including soldiers, police officers and locals, to retreat from big fire areas and focus on creating firebreaks to prevent the flames from reaching residential areas and new forest patches.
Firebreaks are created by placing inflammable obstacles or clearing patches of land to prevent flames from spreading.
“Nearly two km of firebreaks, each 15 m wide, have been created. 500 personnel have been stationed in multiple locations to make sure the flames do not breach the firebreaks. The situation is gradually being brought under control, and no family has had to be evacuated,” said a representative of Dien Chau District.
As of 8 a.m. Sunday, hundreds of personnel were still putting out small fires and being stationed in different locations to monitor the fire and prevent it from flaring up again.
While the district is yet to calculate the damage inflicted by the fire, around 200 ha of pine and acacia forest patches have been incinerated throughout over the last two days.
The blaze was sparked in a pine forest in Yen Thanh District’s Son Thanh Commune. High temperatures of up to 40 degree Celsius, along with the foehn effect (the warming and drying of air on the lee side of a mountain range), caused it to grow quickly, creating high columns of smoke and rendering firefighting efforts futile. The flames then spread to Dien Chau District’s Dien Phu Commune and Nghi Loc District’s Nghi Van Commune.
Central Vietnam has been experiencing several heat waves over the past month. The latest one began June 18, sending the mercury soaring up to 41 degrees Celsius.