Cigarette blamed for polluting brush fire

Cigarette blamed for polluting brush fire

Korat blaze under control but officials worry agricultural burning will worsen PM2.5

File photo: Somchai Poomlard
File photo: Somchai Poomlard

Air pollution along the Phimai-Samrit road in Nakhon Ratchasima worsened on Saturday after a brush fire was triggered by a discarded cigarette, local officials say.

After being alerted to the fire in Phimai district on Saturday morning, officials from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation rushed to the scene and found it had spread over 300 square metres of dried grass along the roadside.

The blaze took more than 30 minutes to contain due to the dry brush and high temperatures.

Officials suspected that someone in a passing vehicle had carelessly discarded a cigarette, causing the fire and damaging the nearby field.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday afternoon was 84, considered moderate. Concentrations of ultra-fine PM2.5 dust were 27.9 microgrammes per cubic metre, below the “safe” exposure threshold of 50µg/m³ set by the Pollution Control Department.

Despite a ban on agricultural burning across the northeastern province because of concerns about air pollution, Phimai district officials have found that local farmers are still burning their fields as they prepare to plant their next rice crops. 

Those found responsible for causing fires have been warned that they will face severe legal punishment.

In any case, Nakhion Ratchasima is one of the healthier places in the country compared with Chiang Mai, which has been experiencing the world’s worst air pollution in recent days.

Most AQI readings in the northern province on Saturday afternoon remained above 200 with the figure for Mae Rim district at 408.

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