Rain fails to douse blazes in Chiang Mai

Rain fails to douse blazes in Chiang Mai

Province has world's worst air once again

Wildfire in Chiang Mai on Tuesday. (Photo: Panumate Tanraksa)
Wildfire in Chiang Mai on Tuesday. (Photo: Panumate Tanraksa)

Many areas in the North are facing a new wave of air pollution as wildfires continue to be detected despite continuing downpours.

As of Monday, Mae Hong Son had reported 6,646 wildfires this year. Most were found in Muang Mae Hong Son district, Pai district, and Mae Sariang district.

The large number of fires has seen Mae Hong Son exceed the safe level of airborne particulates for 38 consecutive days.

The worst PM2.5 level in the province was reported in Mae Sariang district, where the level hovered around 130.5 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), followed by Muang Mae Hong Son (76.5) and Pai (69.6).

Chucheep Phongchai, the provincial governor, has ordered the Sop Moei and Mae Saeiang districts chiefs to work on wildfire suppression as the blazes are considered to be the chief culprit for the poor air quality.

Worasak Panthong, Mae Sariang district chief and director of the district's Wildfire and Pollution Operations Centre, said that he had announced a ban on burning and would expedite the construction of firebreaks.

In related news, an assistant village head in Baan Nong Khao in Pang Ma Pha district was arrested after leading locals to release two suspected firestarters on Sunday.

Chiang Mai's Air Quality Index (AQI) was 193 on Tuesday afternoon, making it once again the city with the worst air quality on a given day.

The province's peak PM2.5 concentration was 26 times higher than the World Health Organization's (WHO) air quality guidelines recommend, according to IQAir.com.

Chiang Mai University's Climate Change Data Centre (cmuccdc.org) reported that 92 spots had PM 2.5 levels exceeding the WHO's safe threshold, with 66 of those exceeding 100 µg/m³.

According to the province's Wildfire and Pollution Control Commanding Centre, 54 hotspots there were reported in 11 districts. Most were detected in Samoeng district, with 13 spots. The others were in Chiang Dao (8 spots), Omkoi (7 spots), and Mae Taeng (5 spots).

The hotspot data collected by a Nasa satellite also reported on more hotspots detected in the region and the neighbouring countries, such as Laos and Myanmar.

According to the Meteorological Department, the northern region is expected to experience hot weather, with temperatures jumping to 36–40 degrees Celsius.

However, pollution is expected to fall significantly as better ventilation caused by rising winds tempers the effects of the sun's rays in the region.

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