Chiang Mai battles extensive forest fires and severe air pollution

Picture courtesy of bangkokbiznews

Chiang Mai, a city in the northern region of Thailand, is currently combating an alarming number of forest fires, with over 15 fires reported, some of which have been persisting for three days. As per the local authorities, 17 out of 153 hotspots were detected in the city yesterday.

Five of these hotspots are located in the Chiang Dao district, with two positioned on Doi Nang in Baan Na Lao of Tambon Chiang Dao. Forest fires have been blazing in these areas for several days now.

Efforts to extinguish the fires have been ongoing, led by the Protected Areas Regional Office 16, in collaboration with local communities and other state agencies. However, the difficult terrain, characterised by steep mountains and uneven geography, has been posing significant challenges to firefighting operations.

Supporting the ground team, six firefighting aircraft have been brought in from the Royal Thai Army, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. These aircraft are integral to the operations, tasked with battling the forest fires from above.

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On top of the fires, Chiang Mai is also grappling with unsafe levels of PM2.5 pollutants. Yesterday, all 25 districts of the city recorded levels of these harmful ultra-fine pollutants above the safe exposure threshold for 24 hours of 37.5 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), with concentrations ranging between 38.8 and 61.4µg/m³.

The situation is even more severe in the Mueang and Pai districts of Mae Hong Son, where PM2.5 pollutants were recorded at 82.7 and 92.2µg/m³, respectively.

Adding to the city’s woes, freak storms on April 13 evening resulted in widespread damage across large areas of the Fang district in Chiang Mai. The storms uprooted trees and caused significant damage to nearly 900 homes and 20 rai farmlands across eight districts, reported Bangkok Post.

Dusit Pongsapipat, the head of the Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office, confirmed that necessary assistance is being provided to the affected households. He further added that inspections are currently underway to assess the extent of the damage and devise a recovery plan.

Chiang Mai NewsThailand News

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.

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