A fire that had raged for three days in the U Minh Ha forest in the southermost Vietnamese province of Ca Mau was doused Tuesday morning.
The fire destroyed 98 hectares of trees 3-12 years old that had been planted for economic purposes, the Nhan Dan (People) newspaper reported. Some trees were planned to be harvested in the coming months, it added.
Nguyen Kien Cuong, deputy director of the Ca Mau Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, who directed the fire fighting operations, said the fire had started on Saturday afternoon and nearly 200 people had come to stop it.
The fire was basically contained that same night but wind and dry weather lit it again and the blaze spread to hundreds of hectares where the trees had been chopped down recently, Cuong said.
This time more than 500 people including soldiers, police officers, foreign wardens and locals stayed in the forest to try and prevent the fire from spreading further.
Water pumps were operated day and night but all the streams around the forest had dried out. Water had to be brought from more than two kilometers away.
Sometimes the fire got stronger and cut the water pipes, Colonel Cao Hoang Le, who directly participated in the operations, told Nhan Dan.
Many people got burnt or collapsed after being suffocated by the smoke, Le said.
Some people are still staying around the forest with pumps in case another fire catches from the leftover ashes, he added.
The fire was the tenth one in the U Minh Ha forest so far, according to the Tien Phong newspaper.