A wildfire that was reportedly caused by a lightning strike on Khao Chaphlu in Nakhon Nayok on Tuesday evening has almost been completely contained, with fire barriers set up to prevent the blaze spreading to Khao Yai National Park.
Following the lightning strike, strong winds fuelled the fire as it spread to Khao Laem located near tambon Phrommani and Khao Phra in Muang district, on Wednesday and then Khao Nang Dam on Thursday.
Fears that the strong winds in the area may cause the fire to spread towards Khao Yai National Park saw Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa instruct officials to work with local agencies to tackle the fire as a matter of extreme urgency.
The park is part of the 6,152 square kilometres reserved for the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, which became Unesco's 184th Natural World Heritage site in 2005.
Nakhon Nayok governor Bancha Chaowarin said on Friday that three helicopters had been deployed to drop 154,500 litres of water to douse the forest fire on Khao Laem and Khao Chaphlu in Muang district on Thursday.
So far, the fire has been contained, leaving only one from three spots that needed to be closely monitored, located at the centre between Khao Tabak and Khao Laem. Land and air operation teams had been deployed to monitor and assess the situation since dawn.
Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) have been deployed to drop water in areas that are blanketed by wildfire smoke to prevent a flare-up, Mr Bancha said.
They also set up barriers at Khao Tabak to prevent the spread of fire to Khao Yai National Park, located about 2km away. The fire is believed to have ravaged 700 rai of the area already.
Mr Bancha said the blaze burned 500 rai in front of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (CRMA) and another 200 rai around the ridge of Khao Phra.
According to Nakhon Nayok provincial public relations office, tambon Phrommani and Khao Phra in Muang district have been designated disaster zones to allow the quick provision of emergency relief following the blaze.
Also on Friday, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had been closely following events around Khao Laem, Khao Chaphlu and Khao Tabak.
Defence Ministry Headquarters officials say the fire is under control, with only light haze now disrupting 2-3 spots around Khao Tabak, which is under close monitoring to prevent any further breakouts due to strong winds.
The Royal Thai Army, DDPM and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry have launched an operation to douse the remaining fires around Khao Phra by air, while the CRMA and 12th Military District will prevent the spread of fire to residential areas.
Khao Yai National Park chief Chaiya Huayhongtong said the operation may finish soon as the fire appears close to being brought under control.