Forest fires have damaged more than 2.6 million rai of land in nine northern provinces, the Mae Hong Son forest fire and haze control centre said on Friday.
Citing a satellite image report by Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, the centre said that during January 1- March 16, 2,680,634 rai of land was destroyed in wildfires.
The damage included 102,268 rai in Chiang Rai, 374,313 rai in Chiang Mai, 791,301 rai in Tak, 221,300 rai in Nan, 150,995 in Phayao, 176,107 rai in Phrae, 203,889 rai in Mae Hong Son, 470,009 in
Lampang and 190,452 in Lamphun.
As of 1.47am on Friday the daily satellite image report said Mae Hong Son had 124 hotspots (10 in Pang Mapha, 17 in Pai, 30 in Muang, 16 in Khun Yuam, three in Mae La Noi, 26 in Mae Sariang, and 22 in Sop Moei), the centre said
An academic source at the Royal Forest Department said that people should not be overly alarmed about the high figure as wildfires swept through accumulated dried and flammable materials and most of the trees would produce new leaves and shoots.
The source said that many tree seeds, having hard shells, also were thinning by the fire, so when the rainy season comes young plants can grow out of them in a faster rate than the unburned seeds.
Mae Hong Son's level of PM2.5 – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – was at 104 micrograms per cubic metre of air, double the Thai safety limit of 50 mcg, said the Pollution Control Department (PCD) in its 9am report on the 24-hour average of PM2.5.
The agency said the PM2.5 levels were between 66 mcg and 194 mcg in nine northern provinces. Tambon Wiang Phang Kham in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district was worst off at 194 mcg followed by Tambon Huai Khon in Nan's Chalerm Phrakiat district (165 mcg), and Tambon Ban Tom in Phayao's Muang district (126 mcg). Chiang Mai's four stations cited PM2.5 levels between 69 mcg - 99 mcg with Chang Pheuk in Muang having the worst number of 99 mcg.