Thai Authorities Battle Spread of Mountain Wildfires

Fire and smoke rise from a forest fire at Nakhon Nayok province province, 114 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Bangkok. Thailand, Thursday, March 30, 2023. The fire had engulfed large areas of two mountains by Thursday, and the authorities were trying to contain its spread. (AP Photo/Nava Sangthong)

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai authorities on Thursday ordered urgent action to stop the spread of a fire that overnight engulfed forests on two mountains in a province northeast of the capital Bangkok.

Firefighting vehicles had been deployed to extinguish the blaze, which broke out Wednesday night in Nakhon Nayok province, 114 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Bangkok, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said, adding that helicopters would be sent to provide further assistance.

The fire began on a high part of Khao Chaplu mountain, where safe access for firefighters was impossible, Anucha said. It then spread to the adjacent Khao Laem mountain. Local media said high winds fanned the flames.


Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was closely monitoring the situation and had ordered officials and the army to mobilize to stop the fire’s spread, Anucha said.


He added that Prayuth ordered officials to watch for anyone deliberately lighting fires to clear land for farming and other purposes, a practice that has been blamed for past fires. The cause of the fire in Nakorn Nayok was not yet clear, though some local media reports said it was set off by lightning.

Separate forest fires have been raging farther north, Anucha noted, including in Chiang Mai province, where water was dumped from the air Wednesday in an effort the dowse the flames.

A thick layer of smog covers the city of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Wichai Taprieu)