Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has issued an order asking ministries, industries and localities to take drastic measures to prevent forest fires.

Early this month, 12 localities were warned of serious forest fire risks due to prolonged dry weather nationwide.

The highest-level alert was announced in eight provinces, including Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Dong Nai, Gia Lai, Ha Nam, Nghe An and Ninh Binh.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the National Steering Committee on Forest Protection and Development have been assigned to cooperate with local People's Committees in order to ensure safety in high-risk provinces and cities.

Forest ranger teams have been directed to tighten their inspections and to curb illegal logging and unwise agricultural practices including burning terraced fields.

The PM also required localities to prepare fire-fighting teams, materials and equipment to cope with a forest fire in case of a blaze.

The head of the locality wil have to take responsibility and suffer the consequences if a heavy forest fire occurs.

The most recent forest fire began on March 2 and raged for five days in northern Lao Cai province's Hoang Lien National Park , destroying nearly 100ha of forest, according to reports by the provincial Steering Committee for Forest Fire Control.

The fire not only had a negative impact on the surrounding environment but also affected tourism to the region.

The steering committee has attempted to discover the reason for the fire and co-operate with the management board of Hoang Lien National Park to restore the green, clean and beautiful landscape.

The North-west Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre has warned that weather conditions are still unpredictable, since dry weather is forecast to last through the next few days. Therefore, not only Sa Pa District but also Van Ban, Bat Xat and Bao Thang districts need to stay vigilant in order to prevent forest fires.

It is estimated that around 200 forest fires occurred nationwide last year, destroying over 2,000ha of forest.-VNA