By Pratheep Nanthaparp
Fires have erupted in multiple locations since March 3 and have been relentless in their speed as they spread through the mountainous area despite strong efforts to defeat them.
Officials from fire control units have been joined by volunteers, soldiers and local administrative officials in a day-and-night battle against flames, with the help of a helicopter from the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry.
Several fires could still be seen from a distance on Tuesday morning as they bellowed thick smoke, and the fire situation remained severe on the hillside behind City Hall, Huai Tart area, Doi 757-Kiew Prajao area, Doi Farang, the Huai Jamlot-Huai Phadan area, Doi Huai Deua, Doi Huai Luang and the hill behind a television signal repeater station.
In the latest update, Lampang was told that Chiang Mai-based Pha Mueang military task force would bring another MI 17-model helicopter, with a 3,500 litre per trip capacity, to aid the ongoing fire-fighting mission.
Meanwhile tambon Ban Dong in Lampang’s Mae Mo district had a beyond-safety level of PM2.5 – airborne particulates 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller – at 62 micrograms per cubic metre of air, followed by tambon Mae Mo at 55 mcg and tambon Phra Baht in Mueang district at 53 mcg, reported the Pollution Control Department.
The nine northern provinces had PM2.5 levels ranging from 27 mcg to 66 mcg. The beyond-safety levels were also cited at tambon Nai Wiang of Nan’s Muang district (64 mcg), tambon Huai Kon of Nan’s Chaloem Phra Kiat district (66 mcg), tambon Wiang of Phayao’s Muang district (64 mcg), tambon Wiang Pang Kham of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district (66 mcg) and tambon Jong Kham of Mae Hong Son’s Muang district (63 mcg).
The air quality readings at four stations in Chiang Mai – which had previously been hit with high PM2.5 levels – were “good” and “very good” with levels at 19mcg to 37mcg on Tuesday.