Villagers in Battambang province are fighting alone against a wildfire that has ravaged the area for four days and continues to spread rapidly despite recent rainfall in the area, officials said Thursday.
The lack of roads is preventing firefighters from reaching Thma Kuol and Ek Phnom districts, where the fire is spreading, but villagers equipped with buckets of water are trying to put it out, Deputy Provincial Governor Ouk Vong said.
“At least 1,000 hectares of flooded forest were on fire for three days,” he said, accusing villagers cooking outside in Banteay Meanchey’s Preah Neatr Preah or Mongkol Borei district of starting the fire.
A long stretch of land near the Tonle Sap lake was severely damaged by the fire, but because of rain-fall Wednesday night there is hope that the fire will slow down and stop by it self, Mr Ouk Vong said.
Seven Battambang forestry officials are currently working in Prek Norint commune, Thma Kuol district, assessing the damage, said Chuong Sophea, deputy director of the Forestry Administration in Battambang province.
“They reported there are many kinds of snake killed by the fire…. Monkeys and turtles have also been found,” he said.
The fire has now been put out in both Preah Neatr Preah and Mongkol Borei districts, said Mongkol Borei District Governor Y Long, who denied that the fire could have started from his district or neighboring Preah Neatr Preah.
“We have sent our commune chiefs to check the [cause of the] fire, but it wasn’t our location,” he said.