Fighting fire with a chainsaw

July 05, 2019 - 08:44

Without a second thought, Tiến grabbed his protective clothing and chainsaw and drove his motorbike to the wildfire.


Đậu Văn Tiến sits next to a tree he chops down to make the boundary in an attempt of isolating the wildfire in central Hà Tĩnh Province. — Photo

HÀ TĨNH — Not all heroes wear capes, but some carry chainsaws.

On the scorching afternoon of June 28, Đậu Văn Tiến was asked to help stamp out a wildfire in central Hà Tĩnh Province’s Xuân An Township, about 12 kilometres from his house.

Without a second thought, Tiến grabbed his protective clothing and chainsaw and drove his motorbike to the wildfire. At the forest, he left the vehicle and climbed up the mountain to the wildfire.

When he arrived, he saw thick smoke billowing out from the fire.

Together with firefighters and locally-based soldiers, Tiến decided to create a control line – a kind of man-made boundary to stop the fire spreading.

Thanks to his skill with the chainsaw, Tiến led the group and chopped down big trees, while the others helped clear out bushes to create a boundary between the fire and the rest of the forest.

“The strong hot wind and thick layers of dry leaves helped the fire spread very quickly. This was the most effective method to isolate and stop the fire at that time,” Tiến told online newspaper

The boundary, which was between 17 and 20 metres wide running from the foot to the top of the mountain, helped temporarily stamp out the fire at 11pm on June 28.

At 3am the next day, the wildfire broke out again.

“Everyone was tired and hungry, but we got ready to get back to the task when we got the command,” he said.

They battled the fire for three days before it was completely extinguished on June 30. Tiến and the rescue forces had worked practically non-stop to put out the fire.

Tiến said it took time for him to master the chainsaw, but he couldn't have put out the fire without the firefighters and soldiers.

He only returned home when the fire was completely stamped out and was welcomed as a hero in the commune, complete with a 70-cm cut from his own chainsaw after he carelessly moved it.

Tiến said what he did was nothing special and anyone in his situation would have done the same thing.

Vice chairman of Nghi Xuân District’s People’s Committee Nguyễn Tiến Hưng said apart from more than 2,000 soldiers and firefighters mobilised to fight wildfires, local residents like Tiến came to help and showed their bravery, he said.

This was not the first time Tiến had dusted off his chainsaw to fight a fire, after working with firefighters to put out another fire in Xuân Phổ Commune several days ago.

Hưng said the committee wanted to give him a reward, but he refused, saying he did what he had to do.

“I’ve become a hero in my child's heart. That’s enough for me,” he said. — VNS