MIRI: Wildfires have flared up again in more than 300ha of peat swamps and forests near the Sarawak-Brunei border, and are said to be worse than those last week.
Fires are raging in three different areas in the forest inn Kuala Baram district, some 40km from Miri town yesterday morning, creating haze.
One is near the Sarawak-Brunei trans-boundary bridge.
Miri Division fire chief Awang Mohd Farbu said the fires were very big, with one estimated to cover at least 200ha.
These fires are worse than those last week. There were six sectors on fire last week and we managed to douse all.
We dont know how these new fires started but we have rushed all available firemen and volunteers to the sites, he said.
The fires so upset Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang that while speaking at a function at the Curtin University of Technology Sarawak campus, he looked out the window and said:
I am very unhappy with this haze.
It has become quite common nowadays. I dont know whether these fires were started intentionally. The relevant authorities must find out, and think how to stop these fires.
The fires are quite close to the campus.
Alfred Jabu recalled that in 1998, the haze that enveloped Sarawak resulted in the state being placed under a state of (health) emergency.
We need to find new measures to stop peat fires, which can burn underground. This is going to be a new challenge for us, he stressed.
A check by The Star at the fire sites found officials from the Sarawak Natural Resource and Environment Board, the Department of Environment, the Public Works Department and private agencies trying to create access paths to the burning sites.
The fires are in areas more than 5km from the nearest road.