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As Hot Weather Grills Central Vietnam, Multiple Wildfires Ravage Ha Tinh

After three days of constant fire-fighting efforts by local law enforcement and military personnel, the forest fires in Ha Tinh Province were finally subdued.

Director of Ha Tinh Department of Forest Protection Hoang Quoc Huan told Tuoi Tre this morning, July 1, that the province’s wildfires are contained. Still, preliminary reports show that almost 60 hectares of pine forest in the province were incinerated and a total of 200 hectares of forest were affected. Residents living near the wildfires had to be evacuated in what has been deemed the worst series of wildfires in Ha Tinh's history.

Local media reported that a wildfire was spotted on Hong Linh Mountain at 1pm on Friday, June 28. Strong winds quickly swept the fire across nearby forested areas, creating an inferno. After 10 hours of fire-fighting conducted by more than 1,000 people, including local police, firefighters and volunteers, the fire was contained at around 11pm that night.

However, just a few hours later, at 2am on June 29, the fire rekindled, this time raging close to households and even a gas station at the bottom of the mountain. More than 100 families were evacuated. After an entire day, fire-fighting efforts finally extinguished the blaze early this morning.

The fire came dangerously close to the homes of Ha Tinh residents. Photo via Zing.

According to Ha Tinh Police Department, on June 30 they took into custody 46-year-old Ha Tinh resident Phan Dinh Thanh as a potential suspect in starting the first fire on Friday. Thanh told police that, on the morning of June 28, he bought groceries and a lighter to smoke some cigarettes. Later that afternoon, he gathered dried leaves in a trash pit in his garden and lit them on fire. The wind rapidly spread the fire to the nearby forest.

Ha Tinh’s southern neighbor, Quang Binh, and northern neighbor, Nghe An, have also experienced severe wildfires in the past week. This is currently the hottest and driest season for provinces in central Vietnam, as they are hit by extremely arid rain shadow winds from Laos. Local temperatures often reach 40°C in the region, with Ha Tinh witnessing the country’s highest temperature on record, 43.4°C, back in April.

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