Authorities in Kampong Chhnang’s Boribor district yesterday stopped a five-day forest fire from spreading, but not before it had destroyed 150 hectares of a flooded forest.
The fire came within 200 metres of a commune marketplace and 50 metres of the district referral hospital before its advance was halted. Some vegetation continued to smoulder in the area as of yesterday.
Authorities have yet to determine what ignited the blaze. Though no people were hurt or properties destroyed in the fire, the heat may have damaged part of an important aquatic habitat, according to Mot Seangheng, head of the Chhnok Trou commune Fishery Administration office.
“The burnt forest was a flooded forest and a habitat for fish as they breed during rainy season,” he said.
District police chief Cheang Sovannarith said that there was a similar but smaller fire in the same area one year ago.
Sovannarith said that forestry officials and police drenched the ground in the fire’s path to prevent it from spreading to the thatched-roof houses of nearby villages.
The Ministry of Agriculture last month issued a warning about forest fires during the dry season, calling human-caused fires “the most worrying”.
Forestry management director Kao Dana, who monitors forest fires, said deforestation creates a great deal of dry plant matter that can easily catch fire, even in the wettest of forests.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov