The forest fires which began on March 23 in Northern Thailand are now subdued leaving the destruction of 2,400 rai of forest and air pollution in several parts of Northern Thailand still in extremely high pollution levels.
Northern Thailand has been raging with forest fires since last month, prompting the deployment of 3,000 employees to detect and fight forest fires. Forest fires and burning of agricultural lands in Thailand and neighboring Cambodia caused air pollution "at critical levels" in several parts of Northern Thailand. No rain and hot weather also contributed to the frequency of bushfires. According to Wutthichai Somwipat, the park chief, they had difficulty putting of forest fire because combustible materials such as dead leaves have accumulated over several years and strong winds fanned flames across fire breaks.
Aside from the Royal Thai Army, hundreds of officials and soldiers were also deployed to control the flames. Loads of water were dropped in the Doi Suthep area to stop the raging fire which has been blazing for a week in Doi Suthep Pui National Park. Soldiers and officials spent 14 hours a day to keep the blaze under control. Helicopters from Environment Ministry and Interior Ministry have been dropping water on fires, while drones were being used to detect new blazes, Thailand's Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-Archa said.
Local officials declared that massive fire has been "brought under control" but air pollution with more smog persists.
As of April 1, Chiang Mai's deputy governor Komsan Suwan-Ampha said steps are being taken to close all access to forests to save the forested areas of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui. Firefighters, soldiers, police, state officials, community chiefs and local people were ordered to patrol the mountain's forested areas to ensure that fires are controlled. Trespassers will also be arrested.
Varawut said that foragers and arsonists caused forest fires in Northern Thailand. He also said that some of the fires at Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai were the result of villagers burning forests to aid foraging. In 2015, it was reported that the haze crisis during "burning season" by local farmers is worsening each year, causing health and economic problems. The Fire Control Division of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has imposed a ban on all burning to solve forest fire issues.
On March 29, The Thaiger reported that air quality in the North of Thailand is "hazardous," as bushfires in Chiang Mai's Doi Suthep-Pui National Park caused a spiked to 925 micrograms per cubic meter. Pralong Dumrongthai, director-general of the Pollution Control Department also reported that fine particulate readings from 17 detector stations across the northern provinces have recorded extremely high pollution levels.
As this develops, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha asked the elderly and children to avoid getting outside because of the smoke and poor air quality. He also expressed concern over the massive damage caused by fire.
Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Nan provinces. also revealed severely unhealthy levels of air quality.
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