Suspected forest arsonist nabbed with fire-setting devices

Photo from Royal Forest Department

An employee of a rock crushing plant, in Mae Tha district of Thailand’s northern province of Lampang, has been taken into police custody on suspicion of starting fires in the Mae Jang forest reserve.

The suspect, Mr. Udomsilp Thithamma, a resident of Tambon Mae Tha in Mae Tha district, was arrested at his shelter in the compound of the Silasin Lampang Company rock crushing plant.  Three sets of mosquito repellent sticks bound with matches were found in his shelter during a raid by Mae Tha district police and forest rangers on Friday.

The suspect reportedly claimed that they were intended for burning grass and shrubs on his farm land.

Forest Department director-general Atthaphol Charoenchansa told Thai PBS that officials had been tipped off by villagers that the suspect had allegedly set fires at several locations in the Mae Jang forest reserve, damaging about 16 hectares of forest.

He added that officials had dismissed the suspect’s claim and are investigating whether others are involved.

A conviction for setting fire to forests is subject to a prison term of up to 20 years and/or a maximum fine of two million baht.

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