A fire broke out on Monday in Nam Sang Wai, a bucolic wetland area to the north of Yuen Long which is popular among picnickers and birdwatchers.
It was the fourth time the wetlands in the New Territories were hit by a fire over the past three weeks, raising concerns among environmental activists and politicians over the potential damage to the ecosystem in the area, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
At around 6:22 a.m., a man who runs a boat service in the area called the police after seeing his sampan and the ferry pier it was moored at ablaze.
Firemen soon arrived at the scene and put out the fire in about 10 minutes. No one was injured.
The police took away CCTV footage of the vicinity for investigation and listed the incident as arson.
The wetlands were struck by three fires on March 12, 13 and 22.
Police said the latest incident seemed to have been done as a challenge to law enforcement authorities.
The man who reported the fire to the police said he not only lost his boat, which he said could carry six passengers at a time and was worth HK$100,000, but also his source of income, about tens of thousands of dollars, although he has another boat to continue his service.
He refused to speculate whether the fire was related to the previous ones. He said he has been running his ferry business for 20 years, adding that he did not believe it was done by someone living in the nearby village.
Lam Chiu-ying, former director of Hong Kong Observatory, said in a Facebook post on Monday after the fire that it was clearly done with some kind of purpose. He called on the police to focus its investigation on organized crime.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu also believed Monday’s fire was a case of arson and called on the police to catch the culprit as soon as possible.
On March 25 Kwong joined about 100 people in a rally calling for enhanced protection of the wetland area.
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