By Tanpisit Lerdbamrungchai,
MY FAMILY were told to evacuate to a local school because the smoke from a fire at a dumpsite nearby was toxic. While we waited to leave, my children and I inhaled smoke and got respiratory and nose irritation.
”Those words were from Marisa Julek, whose home and apartment business is just 50 metres from the dumpsite in Soi Surao Bang Kasi.
On Tuesday, this dumpsite, in Tambon Bang Pla in Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district, caught fire. The blaze caused about 100 people to be evacuated, most of them workers at four factories. They had to stay overnight at Wat Rat Burana School, while firemen continued to fight the fire.
“My heart sank when I saw this afternoon that the fire had spread to an irrigation canal near Suvarnabhumi Airport and officials couldn’t tell me when we can move back. So I plan to return tomorrow,” Marisa said.
Her husband Thawee said the dumpsite was an old earthen well for 30 years and had been filled with garbage from various parts of Bang Phli and nearby factories.
“This is not the first time that the Bang Pla dump has been on fire. It occurs every year but in a small portion, so it is usually put out quickly,” he said. Thawee feared that a fire could erupt and affect his family and fellow residents at anytime but he had no idea who to turn to for help because the owner of the dump has died.
However, Samut Prakan Public Health Office official Dr Sawat Apivajjaniwong said the latest fire had not led to any serious injury.
Sawat said the province faced at least two dump fires a year, so they were well-prepared. He said 100 people were evacuated to Sulao Bang Kasi School yesterday.
But Dr Saming Kaocharoen from Ramathibodi Hospital warned that firemen fighting the blaze could develop acute symptoms from being exposed to toxic fumes.
Samut Prakan Governor Pinit Hanpanit said yesterday the fire had not been entirely put out, and some spots were still smouldering. Some 50 soldiers from the 11th Infantry Battalion in Chachoengsao province would help the mission while 10 backhoes would keep flipping garbage so it could be sprayed with water, so the fire should be totally out later.
So far Bang Klong Samrong Moo 9 community has been declared a disaster zone, he said.
A fire occurred at this same site in March last year.