|A forest fire in Lien Chieu District, Da Nang City. Provinces and cities have been asked to promptly strengthen inspections of fire-related agricultural practices such as burning terraced fields in order to lower the risk of forest fire. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam
HA NOI (VNS)— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sent an urgent instruction to people's committees in cities and provinces on Wednesday asking them to promptly strengthen inspections of fire-related agricultural practices such as burning terraced fields in order to lower the risk of forest fire.
The request followed alarming forest fires in the northern mountainous region, the Central Highlands and southwest, which have been seriously affected by prolonged dry weather.
The highest-level alert was announced in 19 cities and provinces nationwide, and 12 others were warned of serious forest fires, according to a report released yesterday by the Viet Nam Forestry Administration's Forest Management Department.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the National Steering Committee on Forest Protection and Development were assigned to co-operate with local People's Committees to ensure safety in high-risk provinces and cities.
Local authorities were asked to keep a close watch on the warning system and promptly report any blaze to the administration's hotline 098 666 8 333.
Dung also required localities to prepare fire-fighting teams, materials and equipment to cope with forest fires when needed.
Many provinces and cities face the risk of forest fires and have sounded very high levels of alerts during the dry season, according to the Department of Forest Management.
Dong Nai, An Giang, Bac Can, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Hoa Binh, Kien Giang, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Nghe An, Ninh Thuan, Tay Ninh, and Yen Bai have put out a level-five alert and warned that if fires do break out they will spread widely.
Ha Noi, Bac Giang, Ba Ria, Cao Bang, Dong Thap, Ha Nam, Long An, Ninh Binh, and Thanh Hoa sounded level four alerts.
A few forest fires broke out last week.
Because of the dry season, the park's management board focuses on protecting the forest by banning people from burning fields as a precautionary measure.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said all localities have to implement forest-protection and fire-prevention regulations and improve their fire fighting capabilities.
They should educate people about the dangers of forest fires and measures to prevent them, he added.
Firefighters battle with Hoang Lien National Park fire
A fire is raging through a large area of the Hoang Lien National Park, about 10 kilometres southwest of Lao Cai Province's Sa Pa District.
The fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon in Ta Van Commune and strong winds and the cold weather have helped it to spread.
There's a risk of it spreading to the primeval forest.
Firefighters and the local people have been mobilised to help douse the fire.
Doan Van Huong, chairman of the provincial People's Committee, asked the authorised agencies to help the firefighters immediately in stamping out the fire. About 500 people, including fire fighters, police, rangers and locals have joined the job.
Nguyen Van Vinh, secretary of the provincial Party Committee said on the scene that it took more than three hours to walk through the forest trails to approach the nearest fires. The province has sent around 300 more people from 13 communes to support the fire fighters.
The fire would be under control by early morning at the latest, he said.
Initial statistics showed that tens of hectares of forest have been burnt up.
Two fires broke out in the park during the past month, destroying hundreds of hectares of forest. The cold weather, lack of rain and low humidity were the main reasons for the fires.
The forest is located more than 1,500 metres above the sea level and is 30 kilometeres away from Sa Pa, the popular tourist town. The park is home to Fansipan, the tallest peak in Indochina. — VNS