Southern peat swamp fire expanding

Southern peat swamp fire expanding

The wildfire in Khuan Khreng peat swamp forest on Monday. It has now spread to five districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. (Photo by Nujaree Raekrun)
The wildfire in Khuan Khreng peat swamp forest on Monday. It has now spread to five districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. (Photo by Nujaree Raekrun)

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT: The chief of the 4th Army has assigned additional resources to help firefighters battling an expanding blaze in the Khuan Khreng peat swamp forest, which now affects five districts.

Lt Gen Pornsak Pulsawat inspected the peat swamp from the air by helicopter on Monday, and said afterwards he was shocked by the extent of the fires. 

He ordered the deployment of available army resources to help fight the fires. This included two army helicopters from the central plains province of Lop Buri, and fuel to support firefighting operations.

Local authorities told they had been unable to quench the fire burning at four locations, in Chalerm Phrakiat and Cha-uad districts. And then on Monday the fire extended to two more spots, in Chian Yai district, kindled by wind-blown fireballs.

None of the fire zones are readily accessible to firefighters, who lack enough helicopters, long water hoses, pumps, vehicles and fuel to combat the creeping conflagration.

On Monday, smoke from the wildfires spread over Chalerm Phrakiat, Cha-uad, Chian Yai, Hua Sai and Ron Phibun districts of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Last week Chalerm Phrakiat, Chian Yai and Hua Sai bore the brunt of the smoke.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has already deployed its helicopters to help fight the fires, and the Royal Irrigation Department has installed big pumps to help flood the peat swamp forest.  

The Khuan Khreng peat forest is a large wetland in the central part of the South. Fires have smouldered underground there for years. The latest flare up began on July 30, with the fires gaining intensity in the past two days.


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