The fire at the Dujuan Campground of Jade Mountain caused burning across more than 79 hectares of the Dashuiku Forest, with over 22 hectares of forest suffering damages. The Taiwan Nantou District Prosecutors Office found that the five perpetrators, Chiao XX and others, were under suspicion of illegal logging and arson in the forest. The five perpetrators were charged with violating the Forestry Act today (Aug. 25) and the court was requested to impose a heavier sentence. The Forestry Bureau, Council of Agriculture (COA) has already calculated and compiled the costs of rescue personnel, aircraft operations, supplies and equipment expenditures, and forest damage costs incurred by various agencies during disaster relief. The Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, COA and academics were invited to conduct an assessment of the Ecosystem Service Values (ESVs) of the damaged forests, and the calculated amount of damage claims exceeded NT$220 million.
According to the Forestry Bureau, since the expected amount of compensation is quite significant, in order to prevent the perpetrators from transferring assets to avoid liability, the Forestry Bureau applied to the Taiwan Nantou District Court for a provisional sequestration order after completing the calculation at the end of July, which was granted by the court on August 10. However, since a bond of NT$49,300,000 must first be posted to the court and the Forestry Bureau does not have a budget for this public service, the Forestry Bureau has applied with the Executive Yuan for approval to allocate budget for the bond payment. Today, the Taiwan Nantou District Prosecutors Office has formally charged the five perpetrators, and the Forestry Bureau will file an incidental civil lawsuit immediately.
Investigation by Taiwan Nantou District Prosecutors Office: Illegal Fire Making by Perpetrators Caused the Fire
The perpetrators of the fire at the Dujuan Campground claimed that the fire had been caused when a stove was accidentally kicked over. However, after three months of investigation by prosecutors of the Taiwan Nantou District Prosecutors Office, who led the Fire Bureau, Nantou County Government; 7th Special Police Corps; and personnel of the Chiayi Forest District Office, Forestry Bureau to conduct an onsite investigation for the cause of the fire, it was concluded today that the perpetrators caused the fire by illegally cutting down chief forest products and collecting dead and damaged branches to make a fire. The Taiwan Nantou District Prosecutors Office filed an indictment for violation of Subparagraph 4, Paragraph 1, Article 52 of the Forestry Act (theft of forest products by more than two conspirators) and Paragraph 3, Article 53 of the same Act (destroying another's forest). It was also pointed out that the perpetrators caused the mountain environmental disaster because of their selfishness, and after committing the crime, they intended to destroy the evidence and cover up the crime. The court was thus recommended to impose a heavier sentence.
The Forestry Bureau once again urges the public to be cautious when using fire in the mountains and to not throw away cigarette butts carelessly. If members of the public discover a wildfire, they should immediately call the Forestry Bureau's Forest Protection 24/7 toll-free hotline 0800-000930, or dial 119 to notify the local firefighting unit for rescue operations. Let's prevent wildfires and guard Taiwan's precious forest resources together.