Flames engulfed over 10 ha (24.7 acres) of pine forest in the central hill town Da Lat for 8 hours on Friday, with streaks of fire seen spanning across several hills.
Vu Dinh Cuong, head of the Lam Dong Department of Forest Protection, on Saturday said the fire, which occurred at the Prenn Pass area, happened mostly to lower plant layers, meaning there was not much damage incurred to forest resources. However, smokes and dusts affected the environment of Da Lat, he added.
The flames began with puffs of smokes at a natural pine forest with protective functions Friday afternoon, then strengthened and spread to the entire forest on the Prenn Pass. As the night fell, locals in downtown Da Lat could see streaks of red flames spanning across the hills, along with columns of white smokes.
150 people were dispatched to put out the fire. Drones were used to monitor areas on fire, then firefighters put them out with water. The flames were extinguished at around 1 a.m. Saturday.
“Dozens of people were stationed until the morning, extinguishing leftover embers in the forest, preventing the fire from returning,” Cuong said, adding that an investigation is ongoing to figure out the cause of the fire.
Cuong said stacks of dry leaves, coupled with layers of reeds, have provided ideal conditions for flames to spread. The fire happened in a mountainous area with cliffs, making it difficult for firefighters and vehicles to gain access to it, he added.
Da Lat, a popular tourist destination in Lam Dong Province, spreads over 393 km2 and is home to over 237,000 people, according to statistics in 2022.
Its forest area of more than 20,000 ha not only provides protective functions, but also adds to the aesthetics of the region and plays a major role in tourism development, contributing to Da Lat’s fame as a cool retreat.
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