A wildfire which was burning out of control on Wednesday on the border of Laos and Thailand in the provinces of Bokeo and Chang Rai has been brought under control by the relevant authorities.
However, the origin of the blaze remains a bone of contention, with Lao authorities keen to make it known that the fire did not originate from Laos as has been claimed on social media.
Director of Bokeo provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department Mr Khamsone Keopraseud told Vientiane Times on Thursday that he also saw the Facebook site mentioning this matter and citing that the fire began on the Lao border and spread to a forest in Thailand.
The province of Bokeo shares a land link with Thailand in Paktha district, and three villages in Laos are located near the site of this border.
“We asked the local authorities to check the information and they answered that Thai farmers burned off weeds and stubble before planting a new rice crop. The fire then spread to a mountain forest in Laos,” Mr Khamsone said.
The fire is in the area of Chiengthong village in Paktha district, but there were no houses damaged by the fire because the community area is situated in the lowland and the wildfire was on the mountain, which is quite far from the township.
However local authorities and villagers helped to stop the flames.
Based on the Nation and ANN on Thursday, air hazard levels in Chiang Rai have risen to nearly 300 microgrammes of pollutants per cubic metre, the worst in the country so far this year, which has caused thousands of haze-affected residents to seek medical treatment.
As forest fires continue to occur in the far north of Thailand, the border district of Mae Sai had 200 microgrammes of pollutants per cubic metre, while Muang district was at 182 mcg as of 3pm on Wednesday.
Other provinces with hazardous pollution levels included Mae Hong Son at 191 mcg, Phrae at 150, Phayao at 139 and Lampang's Mae Mo district at 136.
In Laos, forest fires occur every year between February and April. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry alerted provincial forestry departments nationwide to prepare for and prevent forest fires.
Fires not only affect wildlife and the natural environment but can cause extensive damage to both property and human life.
To prevent forest fires occurring the ministry has advised farmers through provincial forestry departments to burn felled tree stumps on their farms at least 5m from wooded areas, and has prohibited them from starting forest fires to hunt animals.
This week a wildfire occurred in Huaphan province in the northern part of the country after the hot weather arrived for this year but the blaze was stopped by over 30 villagers near the forest.
Mr Khamsone said that every year forest fires occur in the northern provinces, including Bokeo. However as he has observed Luang Prabang province is burned quite often to clear land to grow crops.