TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A forest fire broke out on Taiwan's Alishan on Thursday (March 18) and it soon spread to Taiwan Provincial Highway 18, forcing the closure of some sections of the road.
At about 1:58 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, a fire broke out near the 28.5-kilometer mark on County Highway 169 near Dabang Village, according to the Forestry Bureau. Due to the ongoing drought, there is much dry detritus in the form of fallen leaves, silvergrass, and bamboo, creating potent fuel for the fire.
The flames soon spread to the slopes just below the 68.7 kilometer and 69.2 km marks of Taiwan Provincial Highway 18, forcing authorities to close those sections. In response, the Forestry Bureau and the Chiayi County Fire Bureau teamed up to battle the blaze.
The fire bureau dispatched seven vehicles and 14 firefighters to fight the fire. Meanwhile, the Forestry Bureau set up a forward command post at the 28.5 km mark on County Highway 169.
The estimated area scorched by the fire is 0.6 hectares thus far. Lee Ting-chung (李定忠), deputy director of the Chiayi Forest District Office, said that because the fire is situated on a steep slope, it is difficult for firefighters to reach it.
(Facebook, AlishanForest photo)
In order to help extinguish the flames on the steep terrain, the National Airborne Service Corps has been asked to dispatch helicopters to dump water on the fire from above. As of publication, the fire is still raging and officials will make another assessment on Saturday (March 20) as to whether to reopen the closed sections.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
National Airborne Service Corps helicopter dumps water on flames. (Forestry Bureau photo)