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Haze and PM2.5 Levels Still Dangerous as Burning Ban Lifted in Northern Thailand

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CHIANG RAI – Although it was the last day of the ban on outdoor burning ban in nine northern provinces on Tuesday, multiple forest fires continued to be a problem.

A satellite report cited 107 hotspots in the region on Monday with 35 locales in Chiang Rai and 15 sites in Chiang Mai.

With forest fires contributing to the high levels of PM2.5 pollution – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – the 24-hour average of PM2.5 in the nine provinces at 9am on Tuesday ranged between 29-109 micrograms per cubic metres of air, according to the Pollution Control Department. The Thai safe limit is 50 mcg of PM2.5.

The air in Tambon Wiang Phang Kham in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district was worst off at 109mcg, followed by Tambon Wiang of Muang Chiang Rai (102mcg), Tambon Ban Tom in Muang Phayao (66mcg), and Tambon Chang Pheuk in Muang Chiang Mai (62mcg).

In Phayao’s Muang district, officials and volunteers continued to battle the forest fire near Doi Luang for the second day on Tuesday, in a bid to prevent it from reaching farmlands after it had already damaged 100 rai (16 hectares) of forestland.

It was expected that the Doi Luang fire would be put off by 1-2 days while those on hard-to-reach steep slopes would be left to burn out by themselves.

During the attempt to put off the Doi Luang fire at 5pm on Monday, 59-year-old volunteer Kuan Oi-wan choked on smoke and passed out, prompting others to pull him out and rush him to hospital. He was recovering as of press time.

Another fire within a teak tree forest near Phayao University’s medical centre in Tambon Mae Ka was promptly extinguished on Thursday by firefighters, related officials and volunteers.

By The Nation