Ca Mau (VNA) - More than 43,500 ha of forest in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau is at high risk of fire during the existing dry season, which began in November and will last until the end of May, according to the province’s Forest Protection Sub-department.

The province has raised its warning to the fifth level - the highest - the sub-department said, adding that areas facing the most danger are those with cajuput and acacia trees.

The drought has become more severe now as many canals are running dry, making it difficult to extinguish fires.

Ca Mau has prepared itself by creating a forest fire prevention plan focusing on a “four-on-the-spot” strategy, but the most challenging issue is that it does not have sufficient water reserves to fight fires, according to the head of the sub-department, Le Van Hai.

Water levels in local canals now average just 0.9 meters and have fallen to 0.3 meters in some areas, Hai noted.

His unit has requested forest owners and management bodies conduct regular patrols and maintain a round-the-clock watch on forests to promptly deal with any emergency.

It has also intensified efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of following rules on forest fire prevention and forest protection. People are banned from entering forests to hunt wild animals, collect honey, and cut down trees illegally.

About 5,000 local households have signed commitments to become engaged in protecting the forests and preventing forest fires during the dry season.

A forest fire broke out in Hamlet 15, Khanh Lam commune, U Minh district a week ago, destroying around 1,500 sq.m of forest, mostly reeds. Caused by an illegal honey collector, the fire was the first in Ca Mau since the dry season began./.