Forest fires in Thai South worry national officials

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NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Aug 17 –  A fire which has burned for some days in peat swamp protected forest ecological reserve in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat continues to worry officials here, and has spread to destroy a home in the area, but no one has been injured.

Forest fires in five districts have damaged 15,000 rai (6,000 acres) so far, including 600 rai of a 1,900 rai forest reserve whose ecology is being studied by the Chaipattana Foundation, under royal patronage, and one vacant house was destroyed.

The province declared two districts disaster zones affected by forest fire.

Regarding making artificial rain to help control the fire, it cannot be done due to low humidity.

Damrong Pidet, Director General of National Parks and Plant Conservation, visited the province, meeting local officials in Chian Yai district.

An aerial survey found 30 hotspots.

Five thousand civil servants are being deployed to control the fire. The first group of emergency workers from the North and the Northeast will arrive tomorrow.

After the fire is put out, no trespassing will be allowed, he said. Orderly plantations in the forest area identified in aerial surveys require large investments and are likely to belong to large-scale businessmen, not to local residents.

The Royal Forest Department offered land for local people to make a living but more forest land was encroached.

The problem must be resolved, Mr Damrong said, as it is a national level problem. Legal action will be taken against any official involved in wrongdoing, he said.