Suspected arson leads to wildfire in Trat, Thailand’s Samet Forest

Picture courtesy of KhaoSod

A wildfire ravaged nearly 100 acres of the Samet Forest in Trat province, Thailand, with suspicions that locals secretly set the fire to forage for forest products. Despite the efforts of firefighting teams, the blaze remains uncontained and there are concerns it could spread to an adjacent 2,000-acre forest.

The Thai authorities are closely monitoring the situation, including the safety of a nearby teachers’ residence, and have adjusted their firefighting strategy to counter the spreading flames.

Today, February 1, the devastating fire at Samet Forest behind the Trat Technical College in Wangkrajae, Mueang Trat district entered its second day, having ignited yesterday, January 31. Immediately following the outbreak, the chairperson of the Wangkrajae subdistrict administration, Kanok Jairak, mobilised fire trucks to the site and sought additional support from the Trat Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office. Moreover, Nonsawai Phutanin, the subdistrict headman, along with administrative officials from Mueang Trat and the provincial forestry officials, joined the response effort.

Preliminary inspections indicate that the blaze has affected approximately 100 acres of mangrove forest, entirely engulfing the Samed forest surrounded by canals and roads on all sides. The Trat Technical College has been entrusted with the care and use of this land.

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The origin of the fire is believed to be internal, likely caused by villagers illicitly entering the forest to gather forest products and inadvertently starting a fire that quickly got out of control. Due to the fire’s remote location, firefighting vehicles have been unable to access the site to extinguish the flames, leaving officials to focus on preventing the fire from spreading to the adjacent forest spanning around 2,000 acres, reported KhaoSod.

Meanwhile, water trucks are stationed near the residence of teachers from the Trat Technical College to prevent any embers from causing further damage. The current firefighting plan involves backburning to create firebreaks and deploying personnel to monitor the surrounding areas.

Forest fires

Nonsawai also disclosed that this area has experienced forest fires in the past, with one such incident requiring approximately a month to extinguish. Samet Forest has a significant buildup of leaves and grass, and soil surveys have revealed leaf litter accumulation up to 50 to 80 centimetres deep. Even after a fire is brought under control, the possibility of reignition from the heat retained in the unburned leaf layer below remains a concern.

In the meantime, the Trat Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office and the Wangkrajae subdistrict administration continue to monitor the affected area vigilantly. Water trucks are deployed to guard the neighbouring forest, ready to respond should any embers cross over and cause additional wildfires.

Thailand News

Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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