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Scenic mountain region in south Taiwan hit by new fire

Five-day blaze in popular tourist area extinguished March 22

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A fire fighter battling the latest blaze near Alishan Friday 

A fire fighter battling the latest blaze near Alishan Friday  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After five days of fires near the scenic Alishan mountain area were extinguished with great difficulty, a new fire has broken out near the starting point of the previous ones, reports said Friday (March 26).

Earlier in the day, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) visited Chiayi County to praise the work of firefighters, CNA reported. Just hours later, however, a new blaze emerged in the same area near Dabang Village, forcing the Forestry Bureau and Fire Service to send an emergency team to the scene.

The latest fire was located between the 69-kilometer mark on Taiwan Provincial Highway 18, also known as the Alishan Highway, and County Highway 169, officials said. According to Facebook posts by locals, the blaze was also close to a tunnel near Dabang Bridge No. 3.

The earlier fire lasted from the afternoon of March 18 until the afternoon of March 22, destroying 1.6 hectares of land and forcing a temporary closure of the Alishan Highway. The mountainous region is extremely popular with tourists and sees considerable traffic jams on sunny weekends.

Netizens warned drivers not to stop to watch the fire and to stay safe while passing through the region. While no official reason for the March 18-22 blaze was determined, locals said cigarettes were the likely cause, CNA reported.

Large parts of Taiwan have been affected by drought, leading to water rationing measures.