Quick probes ordered to find wildfire suspects

Quick probes ordered to find wildfire suspects

Officials check a hotspot, one of the many in Chiang Mai, on Monday. (Photo supplied by Phanumate Tanraksa)
Officials check a hotspot, one of the many in Chiang Mai, on Monday. (Photo supplied by Phanumate Tanraksa)

CHIANG MAI: Officials in all districts with hotspots should expedite their investigations to find the causes of wildfires so that legal action can be taken against suspects in three days, governor Charoenrit Sanguansat said on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of the provincial centre for the prevention of and solutions to the PM2.5 problem and wildfires, the governor said 108 hotspots had been detected in 24 tambons of 12 districts in Chiang Mai.

Nine of those hotspots were found in forest conservation areas and 18 recurred from the old spots thought to have been extinguished, he said.

A large number of hotspots were in mountainous areas with deep ravines in Chiang Dao district adjoining Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces. The hotspots can be reached about three to four hours on foot.

Mr Charoenrit stressed the need for authorities to strictly enforce the law against people suspected of starting a fire. They should rush to where the fire started as soon as possible to investigate. The entire process should be completed and legal action taken against the suspects in three days.

With a clear instruction for them to follow, the officials should no longer have an excuse that they are in still in the process of gathering evidence.

So far, 1,040 police complaints have been filed against wildfire suspects.

Starting from Monday, Region 5 provincial police would comb areas where wildfires had repeatedly recurred to find the culprits for legal action, he added.

Komsan Suwan-ampa, deputy Chiang Mai governor, said many of the wildfires recurred from the old spots. Therefore, firefighters are require to make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving a spot.

Officials who find it difficult to reach trouble spots can submit a request for help to the wildfire suppression centre for consideration.

He cited as an example that a KA-32 helicopter of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department would on Monday drop water to douse the fire in Mae Taeng district and an MI-17 helicopter of the army would do the same in Mae Chaem district.

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