Fires started by animal hunters ravage forest in northern Thailand


Fires ravaged a mountainside in northern Thailand – glowing like lava pouring from a volcano.

The flames spread through the hillside in Chiang Mai on Monday night (March 29) after being started by foragers searching for food and farmers clearing waste crops.

Onlooker On-Uma Juarjan said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before. We could barely breathe inside out the house and the eyes were so irritated.’ 

Firemen from different regions battled the inferno throughout the evening and this morning (March 30).

Samoeng district fire chief Chakkra Ditsayanan said: ‘We made barricades to prevent the flames from spreading and two firefighting helicopters are putting out the fire from the above.

‘However, we can only lessen and contain part of the wildfires as some areas are hard to reach. Most of them were dried bamboo forests which fuelled the fire making it ever more difficult to stop.’

A similar fire was found at the same area last year after hunters and foragers used fires to redirect the animals to specific zones. They also use fires to burn away dried leaves and find rare plants hidden in the soil underneath.

The Royal Thai Air Force said it had also sent BT-67 aircraft to spray 3,000 litres of water three times a day creating water mist around the fire to reduce air pollution haze.

The northern region of Thailand has suffered from wildfires and hazardous haze throughout the last two months. Officials had been attempting to tackle the crisis but the critical situation has not improved.