More than 200 longan trees on Wednesday were destroyed after a nearby forest fire spread in Pailin province’s Pailin city.
According to a police report, the forest blaze was caused by people who started a fire to clear land after the flames spread to the longan farm. It identified the farm owner as Sok Kim Hour, 50, living in Palin city’s O’Ta Vao commune.
“The blaze was caused by people who set fire in the forest to clear land for farming,” the report said. “The culprits forgot to put it out and it spread, resulting in the longan trees being destroyed.”
“The longan farm was almost 70 percent destroyed and the owner has lost a lot of income,” the report added.
Commune chief Soun Oun yesterday said authorities have advised people not to start fires in the forest because the weather is very hot and dry. He said fires can easily spread to residents’ houses and farms.
“There are still some people who start fires to clear forest land or burn waste,” Mr Oun said. “This can easily spread to farms and houses and fire trucks will not be able to reach these places on time because they are located in remote areas.”
Last month, the Environment Ministry issued a forest fire alert and warned that the Kingdom will see higher temperatures this year due to the El Nino phenomenon.
In a statement, the ministry said that according to weather forecasts by the Water Resources Ministry, El Nino will raise temperatures from 40°C to 42°C.
It said the hot weather could spark forest fires due to some natural and human activities and instructed local authorities to take steps to prevent this.
The statement said that the authorities must advise the public against using fire to harvest forest products, catch animals or create grazing areas and also prevent people from burning forests to clear land or other purposes.
“People must also be careful not to burn waste in or around protected forests,” the statement said. “Local authorities must also prepare contingency plans to fight forest fires to prevent the flames from spreading.”