Wildfire strikes Thai National Park, sparks regional eco-disaster

A helicopter trying to control fire on Khao Tabaek mountain in Nakhon Nayok province. (Picture courtesy of Public Relations Department)

A ferocious wildfire has broken out in Khao Tabaek mountain in Nakhon Nayok province, and it’s not backing down. This hungry hellscape has crossed over into Khao Yai National Park, threatening the area’s lush greenery and its resident creatures.

Park ranger Chaiya Huayhongthong sent out an SOS to nearby national parks, asking for reinforcements to help 200 rangers and two helicopters tame the blaze. With the fire feasting on the steep terrain’s dry bamboo and leaves, Chaiya fears it’ll take at least another day to save the park from further destruction, reported Bangkok Post.

The danger doesn’t stop there! The Suomi NPP satellite has spotted more smoke signals in the northern region. With almost 2,000 hotspots detected in forest reserves throughout the country, it looks like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Nan are next up for a game of “Whack-A-Mole with Fire.” Add Myanmar and Laos to the mix, and Southeast Asia’s hots spots are blazing the region with a whopping 21,000+ hotspots.

The smoky situation is getting even hazier with a side of PM2.5 dust thrown in for good measure. Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), issued a warning for dust levels in over 30 provinces, mostly hanging out in the northern and northeastern regions. Word on the dusty street is that their fancy THEOS-2 system is in the works to help save the day by analyzing and tracking these fiery hotspots.

In the meantime, Chiang Rai has had enough of the smoke-filled air and is taking matters into its own hands, extending a burning ban to help snuff out the heat.

As for Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, he’s brushing off the 1,700 Chiang Mai residents who decided to slap him with a lawsuit for his questionable haze management. It looks like he might be hoping for more #teamwork, but maybe he should take a page out of Smokey the Bear’s book and remember that “only you can prevent wildfires.”

Environment News

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.