Thai firefighters battle huge forest blaze that spread across two mountains

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Bangkok, Thailand

Firefighters in central Thailand have spent days battling a wildfire that has engulfed two mountains and part of a forest park.

The fire started at the Khao Chaplu mountain in Nakhon Nayok province, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Bangkok.

Authorities said the blaze ignited during a lightning storm on Tuesday and strong winds whipped up the fire so it quickly spread across the mountain.

On Wednesday, the fire reignited and spread to neighboring Khao Laem mountain, according to Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Video from Nakhon Nayok shows a huge blaze covering the mountain at night, the fire glowing red in the dark and smoke billowing in plumes.

By Thursday, the blaze had spread to Khao Nang Dam, a forest park, as disaster teams and the army fought to extinguish the flames.

The disaster prevention department said in a Facebook post Thursday that three helicopters were dispatched to extinguish the fire, dropping more than 150,000 liters of water over the blaze.

A helicopter drops water over a forest fire hotspot on Khao Laem mountain in Nakhon Nayok province, northeast of Bangkok on March 30.

Areas near the fire were declared disaster zones and firebreaks built to stop it spreading into residential areas, the Thai Prime Minister’s office said in a statement Thursday.

Meanwhile, fire trucks and fire-fighting equipment were brought in on standby at the foot of the mountains in case the fire spread to nearby villages, the disaster prevention department said.

By 9 a.m. local time on Friday, the wildfire had subsided, according to the Prime Minister’s office.

“There have been no pockets of fire spotted. The smoke has continued billowing out from two to three spots at Ta Baek Mountain,” the statement said.

However, it warned that strong winds could reignite the fire.

Though authorities believe a lightning storm started the blaze, “the true cause of the incident will be investigated,” the Prime Minister’s office said.

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