Mekong Delta forests face high fire risk By Ngoc Hung – The Saigon Times Daily HCMC – The Mekong Delta and the other southern provinces are facing a high risk of forest fire on a large scale due to the early and prolonged dry season this year. The region has been hit by several hot spells given impacts of the El Nino phenomenon since October. Some areas of cajuput forest in An Giang Province and pine forest in Lam Dong Province have caught fire as the water levels there have lowered, said Le Thi Xuan Lan, head of the weather forecast unit under the Southern Regional Hydrometeorological Center. U Minh Thuong and U Minh Ha forests deep down the Mekong Delta will face the highest risk due to low water levels in canals. Rubber forests in the southeast region are also at high risk of catching fire as the trees will begin to shed leaves, making a thick flammable leaf layer. The North and the Central regions will be safer thanks to several rainfalls in the coming time, Lan added. Given the lengthy hot weather, An Giang Province’s Forest Protection Department has put nearly 16,000 hectares of forest at fire alert level number five, a dangerous level, during the peak of the dry season next month. Meanwhile, some 600,000 hectares of forest in Lam Dong Province has been rated at the same level.