Fire Emergency in Sumatra

FireEmergency in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia

10 June 2003

GFMC Update:

On 9 June 2003 the GFMC has received notifications about increasing fire activities in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, and resulting smoke-haze pollution in the adjoining countries of Malaysia and Thailand.


Latest Satellite Image:

This MODIS scene from 9 June 2003  showing fires burning in Sumatra, Indonesia. Click on the image to see a 500-m resolution.

Latest Media Report

Indonesia: Haze from slash-and-burn shrouds Indonesia’s Riau (published by Planet Ark, 10 June 2003)

JAKARTA – Thick haze blanketed the western Indonesian province of Riau yesterday as farmers stepped up slash-and-burn land clearing to prepare for next season’s crops. Such land clearing often spreads into raging forest fires. Fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo regions in 1997 and 1998 cast a haze over a large swathe of southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.

Officials in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru said sporadic electricity blackouts were thwarting efforts to monitor hotspots but business and schools were continuing to operate as usual and flight schedules remained unchanged. Riau, which is on Sumatra island, is across the Strait of Malacca from Malaysia and Singapore.

“This morning visibility was as low as one kilometre (about a half-mile) but the wind picked up by noon,” said Rasidin, an official from the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency in Pekanbaru. He said visibility later increased to around eight kilometres.

Fires have been burning in Riau for around two weeks and Nyoman Suamba, from the Environmental Supervisory Agency in Pekanbaru, said: “It’s extremely difficult to monitor and control the fires because there are limited facilities.”

Haze also covered parts of Borneo island, east of Riau, yesterday but officials there said people were still going about their daily routines. The haze in 1997 and 1998 cost regional economies $9 billion in damage to farming, transport and tourism.Conservationists have long criticised Jakarta for failing to protect its natural resources but Indonesia has said the country’s laws are too weak to deal with the problem.


The Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore provides a daily updated schematic of areasaffected by fires and smoke haze within the South East Asian region.Additionally, regional surface winds are displayed.

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Latest map of surface winds andsmoke haze/hot spots observed over cloud-free areas
(Source: Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore)

Forecastsof winds and surface pressure for the South East Asian region basedon Numerical Weather Product Models are also providedby Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore.

Fire Weather and Fire Danger Monitoring and Early Warning

The Regional South East Asia Fire Danger Rating System (SEA FDRS) is a joint effort between the Canadian Forest Service and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in cooperation with various partners in Indonesia.

Fine Fuel Moisture Code

Fire Danger in SE Asia

Fine Fuel Moisture Code

The parameters for the Fire WeatherIndex (Fine Fuel Moisture Code, Duff Moisture Code, Drought Code, Initial SpreadIndex, Buildup Index) can be found directly at:

The GFMC displays selected and daily updated global andAsia-Pacific ExperimentalClimate Prediction Center (ECPC)  Fire Weather Forecasts.These examples allow a quicklook and provide daily and weekly total forecastsand forecasted monthly totals. For background information refer to the ECPCproducts description page.

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Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for  thisweek (left) and the predictedFWI total for next month (right) for the Western Pacific (1-3) and the PacificOcean (4-6) regions.
The weekly total forecast  refer to 00:00 hrsUTC,which is local noon at dateline (180° longitude). Forecast time is 12:00 hrsnoon UTC (Greenwich)corresponding to local evening time in mainland and insular SE Asia.
(Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Project Fire Fight Southeast Asia (PFFSEA) have launched the Fire Bulletin, a weekly analyses and information on fire, haze, and related issues in Indonesia.

Further information: 

  • Regional South East Asia Wildland Fire Network

  • IFFN Country Notes

  • Haze Prevention Group
    The industrial initiative to combat haze in SE Asia provides a website which includes information about the objectives of this industrial initiative and projects implemented to reduce wildfires and haze in Indonesia.

  • The ASEAN Haze Action Online provides the following information:

    • Monitoring: Hyperlinks to institutions involved in regional monitoring and prediction of fire and smoke haze

    • Haze News: ASEAN Transboundary Haze Update (updated daily)

    • Intranet: Information and possible participation in the ASEAN Haze Action Online Intranet Information Services (for associated registered participants)

    • Mobilization Plan: Model Fire Suppression Mobilization Plan

    • Inventory: Inventory and analysis of forest and land fire suppression capabilities

    • Haze Forum: Communication platform on fire and smoke-haze issues in the ASEAN region

    • Calendar: Fire and haze-related events can be identified by a search modus

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