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Landfill fire covers district of eastern Thailand province with smoke

Sa Kaeo landfill fire, photo by Nation Thailand.

A landfill fire covered a district of a province in eastern Thailand with smoke on Monday.

The thick blanket of smoke engulfed Sa Kaeo province’s main city district in the afternoon after the city’s main landfill caught fire. Nation Thailand reported yesterday that, as of press time, the fire still had not been fully extinguished due to heavy winds. It took more than 30 fire trucks and several hours of intense firefighting just to bring the flames under control.

According to officials, the landfill, which spans over 43 rai (6.88 hectares) and contains around 50,000 tonnes of waste, also housed more than a thousand stray dogs. While many hope that the dogs managed to escape, the situation remains uncertain.

The cause of the inferno was believed to be sparked by burning sugarcane fields. The PM2.5 reading as of press time was 73 microgrammes per cubic metre of air (µg/m3), exceeding Thailand’s safe level of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.

PM2.5 is fine particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter and can cause severe respiratory problems.

With many hospitals and schools located within a 10-kilometre radius of the landfill, authorities have urged residents to wear protective masks or stay indoors if possible. The situation is being monitored closely, and relevant agencies have been instructed by the Sa Kaeo municipality mayor to work around the clock to extinguish the fire.

However, it was expected to take at least three days to completely put out the fire.

This news comes after another landfill fire broke out in Thailand just last month.

An uncontrollable fire raged for at least two days straight at a rubbish dump in Samut Prakan province, just south of Bangkok. The fire Praeksa district firefighters deployed over 20 fire engines but the fire was still not under control two days later. Residents were complaining about suffering from a cough, sore throat, burning eyes, and a foul smell in the air.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.