Thailand issues 24/7 hotspot alert as thousands of fires deepen haze crisis
Authorities have been placed on a 24/7 high alert for forest fires in the country’s northern, northeastern and central regions as the number hotspots continues to rise.
Firefighters are on standby and agencies in risk areas are establishing war rooms at national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, under urgent orders issued by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation on Thursday.
Firefighters have also been told to ensure their equipment is in good condition.
Department acting director-general Atthapol Charoenchansa also authorised the Protected Areas Regional Office to specify which agency is responsible for combating forest fires that spread across borders of provinces, to avoid confusion and buck-passing.
The urgent orders come after 3,768 fire hotspots were detected across Thailand by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) on Tuesday. The thousands of hotspots flashed up on the Suomi satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which counted the highest since January 1.
Of these fires, 1,937 were in protected forests, 1,043 in national forests, and 280 in agricultural areas.
The highest number of fires was detected in Kanchanaburi province (577), followed by Tak (495), Uttaradit (237), Nan (212) and Phrae (190).
VIIRS also detected 3,370 hotspots in Laos, 2,809 in Myanmar, 2,758 in Cambodia, and 732 in Vietnam on Tuesday.
The fires are feeding haze that has sent levels of dangerous PM2.5 pollution soaring above the safe threshold of 50 micrograms per cubic metres in most northern provinces. Areas further south including Bangkok have also been suffering high levels of PM2.5 haze this week.