Fires destroy over 1,600 hectares of forest

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Over 150 forest fires broke out across Vietnam in the first two months of the year, destroying more than 1,600 hectares of forest, more than were lost to fires in all of 2009, a local official has said.

According to Do Thanh Hai, head of Forest Management and Protection at the Forest Protection Department, most of the fires took place in the northwest highlands.

Aome 700 hectares of forest were eliminated by wildfires in Lao Cai Province, while Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces reported over 300 and some 230 hectares in respective forest losses due to fires.

Experts from the department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development attributed the fires to dry weather, scarce rains and high temperatures.

They said the dry spell came at a bad time as local farmers had just begun burning vegetation to cultivate root crops.

More than 40 provinces and cities were still facing high risks of forest fires, according to the department.

In the meantime, a fire that broke out along the mountainous border of Son La and Yen Bai Provinces last Tuesday was almost under control this Monday, said department head Ha Cong Tuan.

However, Tuan warned that the area was still at risk of wildfires.

Statistics on damages caused by the fire have yet to be released.

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