Chiang Mai national park fire kills firefighting volunteer

Chiang Mai fire, photo by Thai PBS.

A forest fire at a Chiang Mai national park tragically killed a firefighting volunteer on Friday. The volunteer, 39 year old Wichai Thimakham from Mae Rim district, was found dead in Khun Khan National Park. His death was apparently due to suffocation, Thai PBS reported.

The acting director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, said Wichai and his group had been working between Ban Pok and Ban Pong Khrai villages to combat the forest fires since Thursday evening. The group was scheduled to return to camp on Friday morning, but Wichai did not show up, prompting a search that led to the discovery of his body.

There were no visible burns on Wichai’s body, and his death was believed to be caused by suffocation. His body has been sent to a hospital for autopsy.

Forest fires have reignited in Khao Tabaek, behind the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in Nakhon Nayok, as firefighters were building a firebreak. Chaiya Huayhongtong, chief of Khao Yai National Park, reported that wild animals, such as squirrels and monitor lizards, were found burned to death in the forest.

The Department of Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has estimated that over 190 hectares of forest in the Khao Laem area in Nakhon Nayok have been destroyed by the fires. Firefighters are working to contain the blazes, with five helicopters deployed to control fires and over 191,000 litres of water dropped to fight the flames.

Wildfires are wreaking havoc across Thailand. Last week, a wildfire that started on Khao Chaplu mountain in Nakhon Nayok province in northeast Thailand on Tuesday spread to engulf 700 rai of land on several mountains in Khao Laem, Khao Kae wand Khao Tabak. The governor of Nakhon Nayok province, Bancha Chaowarin, said that KA-32 helicopters from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Chiang Mai NewsThailand News

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.