It has been only four days since we heard and bombarded with the news of the huge fire in Ban Mae Surin that we come to learn with shock again about fire in Ban Don Yang, another small camp with some thousands of Karen refugees located in Sankhlaburi District, Kanchanaburi Province.
On Monday night, March 25, 2013 at 10.00 P.M. a fire broke out in Ban Don Yang camp and after the incident, three houses were burned down and the total number of the affected victims was 22. After discussing with the household leaders about needs of the families, i.e. clothing, bedding and kitchenware, COERR hurriedly comply with their requests.
Much to our relief is that although the fire had broken out during night time, which is outside the time for water distribution, so water for putting out the fire was rare, however, the refugees in Ban Don Yang, who have heard about the fire in Ban Mae Surin and been quite convinced about forest fire and as they have been trained by COERR’s program for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), became aware of the process and practice. They rushed to the nearest mini-fire station, located only 20 meters, took those tools available in the station, i.e. fire extinguisher, backpack pump sprayer, fire swatters, rake-hoes, saw, knives, brooms, pulaski, , fire hooks, long rubber tube, water tank and buckets.
Refugees from other sections also rushed to their nearest station and brought their tools to help put out the fire. This is how the fire was put under control in short time and only 3 houses were burned, with no injured.
The effectiveness of these fire fighting teams was owed to their Emergency Preparedness Drill organized during the training to make sure that volunteer refugees acquired proper and efficient fire-fighting skills. The fire fighting drill is a part of COERR’s Disaster Risk Reduction Program implemented in all 9 refugee camps during 2012-2013. Refugees who attended the fire-fighting drill also expressed their concern about fire in the dry season and their wish to have such drill every year to enable them to be skilful should the incident occurred.