Wildfire, rockfalls block highway 18 in Chiayi County

The Chiayi Forest Management Office has advised the public to avoid highway 18 and use the alternative route 21 due to a wildfire and rockfalls that have blocked the road between the 68 and 69 kilometer mark.

Firefighters have been fighting a difficult battle with a blaze in steep terrain below the road since yesterday afternoon, March 18.

wildfire on steep cliff face at Alishan
Fire in steep terrain presents a challenge for firefighters: Picture: Chiayi Forest Management Office.

Fire fighting crews were dispatched from several local fire stations at around 2:00 pm yesterday. A National Airborne Service helicopter was also dispatched to support efforts with water from the Zengwen Reservoir.

The Chiayi Forest Management Office said that while wildfires are not uncommon at this time of year, this year’s severe drought has intensified the severity of the blaze.

One firefighter was slightly injured this morning after being hit by a falling rock, the fire department reported. The firefighter was taken for hospital for a medical examination after a falling rock bounced and hit him in the abdomen.

Continuously falling rocks from above the road have hampered firefighters fighting the fire below the road. Picture: Alishan National Forest Recreation Area Facebook page.
A wildfire crosses the road, completely on highway 18
helicopter drops water on wildfire in steep terrain
A helicopter is used to fight a fire on an almost 90% slope.
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