Large wildfire breaks out northeast of Bangkok, Thailand
Thai authorities are utilizing helicopters to aid ground firefighters in containing a large wildfire that has spread over two mountains in Nakhon Nayok province. The fire started in Khao Yai National Park on Wednesday night, March 29, 2023, and is currently spreading across mostly undeveloped forest land, located 114 km (70 miles) northeast of Bangkok.
The challenging terrain of the mountains has made it difficult for firefighters to tackle the fire directly, especially at night.
Provincial Governor Bancha Chaowarin stated that safety concerns have forced them to focus on creating firebreaks while awaiting the arrival of helicopters. At least 10 firefighting vehicles were dispatched to the scene, and on Thursday afternoon (LT), two helicopters joined the efforts, surveying the situation and dumping water on the flames.
In response to the growing threat posed by the wildfire, the Centre of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has joined forces with other agencies to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby areas. One such area of concern is the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, which lies in close proximity to the fire.
As of Thursday noon (LT), approximately 700 rai (about 275 acres, or 112 hectares) of forest in Nakhon Nayok had been consumed by the fire. The blaze began on Khao Chaplu mountain before spreading to the neighboring Khao Laem mountain. Local media reported that high winds and an abundance of bamboo growth fueled the fire’s rapid spread.
While the cause of the fire remains uncertain, some local reports suggest lightning could be to blame.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has been closely monitoring the situation and ordered the mobilization of officials and the army to stop the fire from spreading further. He also instructed officials to be vigilant against those who might deliberately start fires to clear land for farming or other purposes, a practice that has been linked to past fires.
As seasonal temperatures rise, other forest fires have emerged in provinces farther north, contributing to dangerously high levels of air pollution.
1 Thailand uses helicopters to fight mountain wildfires – AP – March 30, 2023
2 Firefighters, helicopter battling huge forest fire near military academy – The Nation Thailand – March 30, 2023
Featured image credit: Sky News (stillshot)
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