Heavy haze has blanketed northern Thailand as bush fires have reportedly broken out in several northern provinces. People in Chiang Mai, Lampang and Tak provinces in report suffering from thick smog due to wildfire.
The haze problem expanded at more than 100 locations in Chiang Mai alone.
In Lampang, smog completely covered its central district. The worst PM2.5 level there was reported at 98mg in Ban Dong sub-district of Mae Mo district. Forest fires were expanding in the province and mostly covered mountains where fire control was difficult.
Open air burning by farmers has also worsened the situation as they clear land for planting ahead of the fire ban period. – March 1-April 30 – imposed by the provincial authorities.
Chiang Mai Province has brought its annual fire ban forward this year to combat increased haze levels. The province also prosecuting its first fire case of the year for defying the burning ban.
Officials visited the scene and found somebody burning rubbish. The fire was extinguished the person was fined burning during the ban.
The ban was brought forward by Governor Mr. Charoenrit Sanguansat on Friday with the ban now in place in all 25 districts through to April 30.
Haze Staying due to high pressure front and cool weather
The Governor noted in his statement that early burning combined with cold weather and ongoing high-pressure systems were contributing to haze being captured in the province.
Chiang Mai One notes that this is the textbook definition of an inversion layer.
The burning ban includes any open-air burning of any sort. The ban also carries fines of up to 25,000 baht and/or three months in prison.
In Tak province, fire was destroying forest reserves on the left side of the Ping river in Sam Ngao district. Officials also found it difficult to fight the fire because many areas were steep terrains.
Consequently thick haze blanketed communities in Sam Ngao and visibility decreased to 500 meters.
Thailand Officials have promised to better prepare to deal with the upcoming bush fire and haze season in northern Thailand.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation promised complete readiness.
The bush fires — which are a source of haze with particulate dust PM2.5. Usually start at the end of the year and last until March. Causing severe haze and air pollution and the destruction of thousands of Rai of forest land.
Sugarcane fields set a blaze in central Thailand
Meanwhile, Sugarcane growers in this central Thailand have been seen burning their fields at night despite authorities’ ban on the practice to curb haze.
Farmers say burning the fields before harvest saves money and time. Laborers prefer collecting burnt sugarcane to fresh ones full of leaves.
In the burning process, the field is set fire to and the leaves are burned off of the stalks. About 80% of the “trash,” including straw, the tops, and green and dry leaves, are burned off. These components constitute about 25% of the entire sugar cane stalk.
The field burning ban was issued late last year in a bid to control hazardous fine dust. As of Monday, the Pollution Control Department reported that the quantity of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres and less in diameter amounted to 65 microgrammes per cubic metre of air in Nakhon Sawan over the past 24 hours. The safe limit is at 50mcg.