Better vigilance needed to prevent wildfires as intense heatwaves continue

June 10, 2023 - 08:43
Multiple forest fires have been reported between mid-May and early June in various localities.  
The wildfire that occurred in the central Quảng Trị Province in mid-May. —VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI — The ongoing intense heatwaves across the country, not only affect people’s health but also create high risks of wildfires, causing harm to livelihoods and the ecosystem.

Multiple forest fires have been reported between mid-May and early June in various localities. In one fire, two people lost their lives. 

At around 10.30am on June 4, a wildfire occurred in the protection forest for environmental conservation in Minh Trí Commune of the capital city’s Sóc Sơn District. 

Due to the blazing heat, it wasn't completely extinguished until 4.30pm on the same day. 

Sóc Sơn District also recorded another fire in the protection forest between its Hiền Ninh and Nam Sơn communes, which caused damage to 0.56ha of pine forest. 

The People's Committees of Hạ Long and Uông Bí cities in Quảng Ninh Province also reported a forest fire which caused the deaths of two people. 

Meanwhile, in mid-May in the central Quảng Trị Province, a wildfire occurring over 18ha of the protection forest in the Bến Hải River basin was estimated to have caused VNĐ300 million (US$12,800) in damage. 

Another fire in Cam Lộ District also destroyed approximately 3ha of a three-year-old acacia forest around the same time. 

According to the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting (NCHMF), due to the influence of the El Nino phenomenon, there will be more intense heatwaves, with a higher number of sunny days than the previous years’ average, along with abnormal fluctuations. 

The combination of blazing heat and a lack of rainfall increases the risk of wildfires in many areas, leading to damage to forests, the environment, and affecting people’s health, properties and livelihoods. 

NCHMF director Mai Văn Khiêm said that starting from mid-June, the average temperature is expected to be higher than that of previous years by around 0.5-1 degrees Celsius.

Hoàng Duy Quang, deputy director of the Management Board for Protection Forests in the Bến Hải River basin (Quảng Trị Province), said that their units face a high risk of forest fires during the hot and dry season. 

Preventive measures

Since the beginning of summer this year, forest protection forces have been on high alert, maintaining round-the-clock checkpoints, increasing patrols, conducting awareness campaigns, and implementing fire prevention and firefighting measures.

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Văn Tùng, deputy chief of the Firefighting and Rescue Police Department (Bình Dương Provincial Police) said that the local police have issued an official dispatch to implement specific measures regarding fire safety.

Officers inspect a forest in Mèo Vạc District of the northern Hà Giang Province for wildfire prevention and control. — VNA/VNS Photo Nam Thái

In order to enhance urgent measures for forest fire prevention, Prime Minister (PM) Phạm Minh Chính had issued Directive No. 441/CĐ-TTg on May 22 this year, which requires provinces and cities to strengthen inspections and monitoring of wildfire prevention and control. 

This is considered a top priority in which complacency, negligence, and lack of vigilance are strictly prohibited. 

The directive calls for the establishment of dedicated task forces and assigning patrols on standby around the clock throughout the dry season and hot days.

Authorities should also monitor, supervise and provide guidance on setting fires near and in forest areas, especially with people burning vegetation for cultivation. 

The PM also assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to lead forest fire prevention and control nationwide. In the case of forest fire, authorities must be present for firefighting management. 

In addition, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises and the Vietnam Electricity (EVN) are also required to cooperate with localities to ensure the safety of the national electric grid. — VNS