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Fire-fighters enter third day of battle at Chiang Rai dump

Apr 24. 2019
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By The Nation

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Fire-fighters returned to battle at a rubbish dump in Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district on Wednesday, as efforts continued to douse a three-day-old blaze.

A source at the scene estimated it would take at least another day or two before the flames are finally put out.

The fire took hold at the site in Ban Hua Wiang (Moo 1) in Tambon Wiang early this week. Fire fighters have been waging a difficult battle as flames leap from the dump’s five pits. Strong winds are  directing the blaze towards the fire-fighters, who have donned fireproof overalls and air tanks as carbon monoxide levels soar. 

By Tuesday evening, they had managed to extinguish the fire at the first and second pits, while water was being pumped from Mekong River to douse the flames in other pits, the source said. 

The fire has sent plumes of foul-smelling smoke into the residential neighbourhoods of Tambon Wiang and Tambon Sathan. A test of air quality within a one-kilometre radius of the dump showed the presence of toxins but all were within safe levels, the Region 1 Environment Office reported.

Locals are also concerned about several million cubic metres of contaminated water used to put out the fire, urging that it be properly disposed of to minimise impacts on the water table and environment. They have asked authorities to find a place to retain the water while it evaporates.

After 10 years of operation under the local tambon administrative organisation, the dump was ordered to be closed by the district office early this year after being plagued by annual outbreaks of fire.

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