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Drought raises forest fire risk

Update: February, 28/2013 - 02:13

Forest rangers and fire fighters put out a blaze that broke out at a protected forest area in HCM City's District 9 on Monday. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh

HA NOI (VNS)— Forest fires seared through hectares of trees in the Central Highlands and southern regions, forcing localities to take urgent preventive measures.

More than 30 hectares of HCM City's forest and over 50 hectares of forest in the southernmost province of Ca Mau were destroyed in fires on Tuesday.

Yesterday, a fire in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong destroyed four hectares of natural forest.

The fires were attributed to the carelessness of local people, made worse by the long-lasting drought.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said the harsh drought increased the risk of forest fires in many localities, especially in the Central Highlands and southern regions.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting predicted the drought would last for some time.

Phat asked both provincial and urban people's committees to co-operate with inter-ministerial agencies of forest management, public security and the military to combat forest fires.

Local authorities are responsible for banning people from burning land for cultivation or conducting other fire-related activities near forests.

People are gradually becoming more knowledgeable about the danger of burning off land for cultivation in such dry weather, according to the Lam Dong Forest Protection Agency.

Le Van Hai, head of the Ca Mau Forest Protection Department, said the department has still allocated more forces to monitor such activities.

Monitors should be on duty 24/7 in critical areas so they can stop fires before they spread to other areas, Phat said.

Localities have also been asked to post forest fire warnings online at and report fires to the steering committee on Forest Protection and Management, which can help them in firefighting efforts.

The Viet Nam Forest Management Office released a warning yesterday about the high risk of forest fires in 19 Central Highlands and southern provinces and cities. Forests in these areas easily catch fire, and once flames start, they can spread quickly.

In particular, severe warnings were given to the 12 provinces of Dak Nong, Long An, Tay Ninh, An Giang, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Dak Lak, Dong Nai, Gia Lai, Kien Giang, Kon Tum and Lam Dong.

Fire destroyed more than 2,000ha of forests last year.—VNS

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