Firefighters in Central Quang Ngai Province put out a forest fire on Thien An Mountain last month. Central provinces experienced dozens of large forest fires last month, motivating them to boost fire prevention and control activities. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Dang Lam
HCM CITY — The recent upsurge in the outbreak of forest fires in the central region has prompted several provinces to take additional measures to prevent and control them.
Nguyen Hieu Hoa, deputy director of the Binh Dinh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province strengthened dissemination of forest fire prevention and control methods and equipped localities with better fire-fighting facilities.
The department also submitted a five-year plan (2011-2015) to improve the capacity of preventing and controlling forest fires in Binh Dinh, Hoa told the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
During this period, Binh Dinh planned to set up a training centre to provide courses in forest fire prevention and control.
The province would also set up three forest fire forecasting stations and several fire-watch towers in coastal protective forests, Hoa said.
Nguyen Dai Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Thua Thien-Hue Province Sub-department of Forest Protection, said the province had clarified responsibilities of relevant agencies at all levels in managing forests and advocating forest fire prevention and control methods to local residents.
In Thua Thien – Hue's Quang Dien District, for instance, the district People's Committee has required forest caretakers to establish steps to prevent and control forest fires and follow them strictly.
Forest caretakers will be held legally responsible if fires break out in areas they manage, the administration has said.
Last month, central provinces from Thua Thien – Hue to Phu Yen Province and Da Nang City have experienced dozens of large forest fires.
In the first week of July, Da Nang City had seven forest fires that destroyed several dozen ha.
The largest fire occurred at the Nam Hai Van special use forest on July 7, destroyed 25ha, including 4.5 ha of a 15-year old pine forest.
The Da Nang Sub-Department of Forest Protection has also raised the warning level of forest fires to the fifth level, the most dangerous level.
In Phu Yen Province, a forest fire destroyed 100ha of planted forest in Phu Hoa District on July 16. It was the biggest forest fire in the district so far, local officials said.
Thua Thien – Hue, a province in the central region where forest fires are very rare, has seen five of them so far that have destroyed a total of 15ha.
Most of the forest fires in the central region have been attributed to human actions, including the smoking of bee hives for honey, burning rice fields after the harvest, and by tourists lighting fires when they visit forests.
The recent forest fires in the central region also spread rapidly over a broad area, highlighting the severe shortage of firefighting facilities.
To extinguish the forest fire at the Nam Hai Van special use forest, Da Nang authorities had to mobilise nearly 1,000 people from forest protection forces, military and local residents.
The task took 20 hours, but it would have been better implemented with better facilities and trained personnel.
Tran Van Luong, head of the Da Nang Sub-Department of Forest Protection, said the task was made difficult because it was impossible for fire fighting vehicles to enter deep into the forest.
Fire-fighting vehicles could only prevent fires at the forest edge from spreading further, he said, adding that Da Nang was ill-equipped to protect its 55,000ha of forest with its current facilities and 140 forest rangers.
The sub-department petitioned city authorities to arrange for better equipment and trained personnel to protect its forests, Luong said. — VNS