Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Peat forest fire battle expands to around-the-clock effort

Aug 21. 2019
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By Krissana Thiwatsirikul
The Nation

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Wildfires continue to engulf the Khuan Khreng peat forest in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, forcing officials to battle the flames day and night. Meanwhile, map plotting of the eruptions show they were on the same curve line, pushing towards the fertile peat forest, and raising suspicions that they were set by arsonists with the intent to cause major damage to the forestlands.

Lt-General Pornsak Poonsawas, the Fourth Army Region commander, earlier this week surveyed the Khuan Khreng peat forest in Cha-uat, Chalerm Phrakiat, Chian Yai, Hua Sai and Ron Phibun districts by helicopter after the wildfires could not be completely contained after more than 20 days of fighting them. 

Most of the over 100 spot fires are now believed to have been set by arsonists, with damage to more than 14,000 rai – including nearly 5,000 rai of affected farmlands.

As of Tuesday, several more spot fires were detected in tambon Suan Luang and Thang Poon in Chalerm Phrakiat and tambon Kuan Phang in Ron Phibun, prompting soldiers and forest-fire fighters to escalate their work into around the clock activity.

The situation as of 10am on Wednesday remained at the “at-risk” level as strong winds and heat could cause flare-ups.

Officials, plotting multiple fire spots onto a map, found the locations of eruptions followed the same curved line pushing towards the fertile peat forest. This has strengthened suspicions that the spot fires were started by arsonists intent on reducing the forestland to a deteriorated condition.

Nakhon Si Thammarat Governor Charoen Tipayapongtada has offered a Bt5,000 reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of a forest-fire arsonist and a Bt50,000 reward if the case led to a conclusion in the prosecution of the arsonist.

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