HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Thousands of people were evacuated from
their homes when a fire ripped through a neighborhood in Vietnam's
Ho Chi Minh City, destroying 39 houses, an official said Monday.
No one was injured in Sunday's blaze, but narrow streets
hindered firefighters' efforts. It took them nearly three hours to
extinguish the fire, said the official from Binh Thanh District's
People's Committee on condition of anonymity.
Police are still investigating the cause, but some witnesses
have said the fire may have started from cooking in one of the
houses - many of which are constructed with wooden walls and roofed
with oiled papers, she said.
No damage estimate has been given, the official said.
Some victims have temporarily moved into tents set up by
government while others have gone to stay with neighbors, she said,
adding the local government has provided $63 for each family whose
house was destroyed.
Officials in Ho Chi Minh City, the southern financial hub of
nearly 7 million people, have been working to enforce fire codes
after an October 2002 blaze swept through the International Trade
Center, killing 60 people. It was the country's worst fire since
the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)