|A view of the U Minh Ha Forest in the southern province of Ca Mau, where warnings of severe fire threats have been raised. Preventive measures have been taken during the dry season this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Le Huy Hai
CUU LONG DELTA (VNS)— Authorities in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are taking measures to prevent forest fires during the dry season as the water level in canals and streams is dangerously low.
Vo Van Lan, who owns 30ha of cajeput forest in Thanh Hoa District's Thuan Binh Commune in Long An Province, said that forest owners were living in tents in the forests in case fire breaks out.
Authorities said all of Long An's 30,000 ha of cajeput forest was under the fifth-level warning, the highest.
Thuan Binh's People's Committee has organised many activities to raise people's awareness about forest-fire prevention and control as drought is expected to be severe this year.
The commune's 3,000ha of cajeput forests have little or no water now.
The province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has instructed forest-protection forces to cooperate with local authorities and the public to prevent forest fires.
In Kien Giang Province, nearly 3,000 ha of protected forests in An Bien District and 1,500ha of protected forests in the U Minh Thuong National Park now face the third-level warning, according to the province's Forest Protection Sub-department.
And in An Giang Province, more than 12,400ha of forests in Chau Doc Town, Tri Ton and Tinh Bien districts have had no water for many days, according to the province's Forest Protection Sub-department.
Prolonged heat has dried up tree leaves. Cigarette or incense ash could easily cause fires and destroy thousands of hectares of forests in these localities, according to the sub-department.
Many religious pilgrims were visiting the Bay Nui (Seven Mountains) area in Tinh Bien and Tri Ton districts to attend the Via Ba ceremony.
Tran Phu Hoa, head of the An Giang Forest Protection Sub-department, said that the sub-department was working on the weekend to protect forests. March and April are the highest-risk months of the year for fires.
The sub-department has provided more equipment to firefighting facilities, including installing more than 700 water tanks at mountain slopes.
"This year the task of preventing and controlling forest fires is harder compared to two years ago because of unfavourable weather conditions," he said.
In Ca Mau Province, the area of forests without water has increased from 24,000ha early this month to more than 33,000ha.
Of the figure, 17,000ha face the fourth and fifth warning level of forest-fire risk.
If prolonged heat continues, all 41,000ha of cajeput forests in the province could be without water by the end of the month.
Ca Mau authorities have also asked households that live near forests to promise not to harvest beehives or catch fish. — VNS