TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – While torrential rain was causing landslides and floods in southwestern Taiwan, a fire was raging on Green Island in the southeast, destroying 28 hectares of forest land.
Black Hawk helicopters had to intervene before the fire was doused successfully late on Thursday (August 15), almost half a day after it had started, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported.
Local officials said that the only fire truck they had at their disposal not have been able to control the blaze, especially since it erupted in a mountainous area difficult to access from roads.
Inspectors were planning to enter the area Friday (August 16) to look for the cause of the fire. Early theories included a cigarette left behind by a careless hiker or burning paper from a religious festival carried into the area by the southerly wind, according to CNA.
There are only two fire trucks on the whole island, and the larger of the two broke down Friday, so it was left to the smaller one to fight against the fire, local officials said.
Taitung Airport and Hualien each sent over a Black Hawk helicopter, and the aircraft went back and forth eight times to pick up a total of 18 tons of water before the blaze was extinguished late at night.
The damage to wildlife in the area has yet to be ascertained, but officials said larger animals would have had the time to flee before the fire reached them.