May, 04 2012 10:05:00

Heat wave puts local forests at high fire risk

BAC GIANG — A man died fighting a forest fire in Bac Giang Province on Wednesday, as forests in other northern and central provinces are at extremely high risk of fires due to the prolonged hot and dry weather.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Viet Nam Forest Administration, the most high-risk forests are located in areas of Bao Thang, Van Ban and Bao Yen in northern Lao Cai Province, as well as areas of Anh Son, Con Cuong, Que Phong and Quy Chau in central Nghe An Province.

The fire occurring in Bac Giang Province due to unknown causes destroyed at least 4ha of 10-year-old trees, including pine, acacia and sandal wood trees in the two communes of Yen Lu and Tien Phong. Local authorities and agencies co-operated with residents to put out the fire yesterday.

In central Da Nang City, the authority yesterday morning also brought a forest fire on Hai Van Mountain Pass in Lien Chieu District under control after a seven-hour battle. More than 1,000 fire-fighters and people were involved in fighting the blaze.

Nguyen Huu Thiet, head of the district's Forest Fire Prevention Committee, said 100ha of forest was damaged.

District Forest Ranger Section deputy head Pham Van Rong said the fire might have been caused by a bomb or mine exploding.

An explosion was heard at 2pm, before the fire, he said.

Ha Giang, Vinh Phuc and Quang Ngai also reported forest fires due to the current heat wave with the temperature reaching up to 42 degree Celsius.

High temperatures and a prolonged drought have put 63,000 ha of U Minh Ha cajuput forest at risk of fire, with another thousand hectares of summer autumn rice facing sea-water intrusion.

Initial statistics from the administration show that more than 310 ha of forest burned in the first quarter of this year.

The heat wave is forecasted to continue until Saturday, warned by the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

Temperatures that have been hovering at 40-year highs in the last few weeks in Viet Nam have seriously affected people's lives, causing heat-related illnesses, increased salinity in rivers, and forest fires across the country.

In Thua Thien Hue Province, the number of people contracting respiratory and digestive ailments and dengue fever has shot up by 40 – 50 per cent, forcing two patients to share a bed at most hospitals.

The Da Nang General Hospital admits 1,000 – 1,500 patients every day, a nearly 50 per cent increase over normal days.

The Ha Noi-based Central Children's Hospital admitted an estimated 2,000 patients on Wednesday, 40 per cent higher than normal.

The high temperatures have caused many rivers in the central region to become severely saline.

Huynh Van Thang, deputy director of the Da Nang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Han and Yen Rivers have become extremely saline though it is just the beginning of the dry season.

There would be a shortage of water for the summer-autumn crop as a result, he warned.

Many pumping stations in Quang Nam Province's Dien Ban, Duy Xuyen, and Hoi An Districts are grappling with the increased salinity. — VNS

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