Kuala Belait – A joint operation to water bomb persistent peat fires along the Seria bypass was held yesterday morning. The exercise, codenamed “Operasi Embun 3”, was carried out by officials and personnel from Belait Fire Service, BSP Fire Service and seven Flight Army Air Corps (AAC) led by Officer B ‘command, Senior Superintendent Lim Hock Guan.
According to Senior Supt. Lim the team made use of a Bell 212 helicopter to release a huge quantity of water onto the peat fires. He assured members of the public that the fire is under control. During the operation, the Belait Royal Brunei Police Force also assisted in controllingg the traffic. The police have been continuously patrolling the area to monitor the visibility and to ensure the safety of road users.
Senior Supt. Lim said during the operation the team witnessed a massive forest fire in the Miri plantation area sending plumes of smoke high into the sky. The site is less than 500 metres away from the Brunei border of Sungai Teraban. Fortunately, the north-west wind direction is blowing the smoke away from Brunei Darussalam, said Senior Supt. Lim. The south-west wind direction last fortnight blew smoke from widespread open burning in Miri and Kuala Baram into Brunei causing a slight haze, he added.
He also added that yesterday’s Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) reading was still below 50 and the air quality in the Belait District remained in the good range.
Peat fires along Mumong Seria bypass yesterday left a thick wall of smoke that reduced the visibility in the area to near zero. Vehicles were forced to slow down and queue up before the visibility got slightly better.
Belait Fire Services personnel have been combating bush and forest fires around the clock and have been monitoring peat fires along affected areas.
According to the Brunei Meteorological Service at the Civil Aviation Department, the current dry weather conditions in the Sultanate are due to the prevailing inter-monsoon season from late March through May or pre-Southwest monsoon that is slightly drier than normal due to ongoing weak El Nino conditions in the central Pacific Ocean regions, RTB reported.
The observed maximum temperature in Brunei has also shown a marked increase. On April 30, the highest recorded maximum temperature at the Brunei International Airport was 35.7 degrees Celsius. Brunei recorded the highest maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius in 1983.