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Officials Believe Arsonists Started Massive Forest Fire in Chiang Rai’s Muang, Mae Chan Districts

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CHIANG RAI – Late Sunday night, a large forest fire broke out on the Crocodile Mountain, which lies on the boundary between Khao Muang and Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai Province.

The fire burned heavily on the mountain sides of Tha Sut Sub District, Mueang District, before it spread across the hilltop area to the Pa Tueng Sub district, Mae Chan District. The whole mountain was engulfed with flames.

Third Army Region deputy commander Major Buncha Duriyapan and Chiang Rai’s Pha Muang forces coordinated with local officials in order to accelerate the blocking of forest fires and preventing it to spread to further communities.

Nearly 1,000 officials and volunteers joined in to battle the fire, which started on Sunday night in the Doi Jorakhe area of Tambon Tha Sud in Muang before spreading to Tambon Pa Teung in Mae Chan, a densely populated area and home to Mae Chan Hospital and temples

Mae Chan disrict chief  Ms.Wandee Ratchomphu set up special coordination centre was set up at Wat Pateung to dispatch nearly 800 firefighters to the affected areas at first light to put out the flames in the heavily wooded mountainous area as doing so during the night was considered too dangerous.

The Army brought in a helicopter to provide support to the Protected Area Regional Office 15’s chopper being used to carry water from the three-metre-deep Tham Sua reservior to douse the flames in hard-to-reach spots.

Major Buncha Duriyapan told Thai media that he ordered authorities to investigate and identify the person(s) who started this massive fire, saying this was “a strange and unprecedented situation when wildfires erupted all over the province’s mountainous areas simultaneously”.

He said he was convinced that this was a case of arson and not a natural incident like a lightening strike.

The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency’s fire monitoring system, as of yesterday morning, identified 291 hot spots in Chiang Rai

Photo’s Thai News Chiang Rai Report