PETALING JAYA: Thick haze caused by almost 600 hot spots in Indonesia and a peat fire in Cyberjaya blanketed the Klang Valley and several places in Malaysia.
Beginning with a hazy morning, visibility in Petaling Jaya, Subang, Sepang and Malacca dropped suddenly at about 4pm yesterday.
The worst hit places were Sepang and Petaling Jaya, where visibility was as low as 1km in the evening.
PLUS Expressways Bhd said visibility at some stretches of its Elite Expressway, which links Shah Alam to Nilai and KLIA, was only 150m.
At its height, the haze was so bad that there was the acrid smell of burning outdoors.
The Star was inundated with calls from the public enquiring why the haze had turned bad so suddenly. Some callers said they could even detect the smell of burning in their air-conditioned offices.
The Department of Environment said that as at 11am, the air quality was average in most of the areas affected by the haze, except for Seri Manjung in Perak which recorded an unhealthy reading.
IT’S BACK: The hardly visible building in the background is the Putrajaya Hospital Complex seen during the hazy conditions yesterday following the peat fire at the Cyberpark in Cyberjaya. The peat fire at the Cyberpark in Cyberjaya. The peat fire started on Monday.
No further air quality readings were released by the department.
DOE director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said the air quality was expected to worsen over the next few days because monsoon winds from a south-westerly direction were blowing the smoke from open burning in Sumatra to peninsular Malaysia.
She said in a statement that 587 hot spots in Riau and northern provinces in Sumatra had been detected via satellite imaging on Monday.
Besides Sumatra, there were also 16 hot spots in Kalimantan and 17 in Sarawak.
Rosnani, however, said the peat fire in Cyberpark in Cyberjaya could not have caused the hazy situation to deteriorate so badly, as experienced yesterday.
Smouldering fires underneath 4ha of peat land in the park caused large areas of the township and nearby Putrajaya, Puchong, Dengkil and Subang Jaya to be shrouded in thick smoke.
Operations Officer at the Cyberjaya Fire and Rescue Services Department Yusri Sasarjo said they received a call around 2pm on Monday afternoon alerting them to the fire.
The area was still smouldering today. We will be calling for backup from fire departments in Sepang, Banting, Seri Kembangan and KL International Airport.
At the moment, there are only 10 of us trying to put out the fire. We are trying to beef this up to 30 personnel, he said, adding that he hoped the fire would be completely doused within two days.
Sepang Municipal Council public relations officer Zelda Mohd Zamri said the council had dispatched its enforcement team to the site of the fire to monitor the situation.
The Cyberjaya City Command Centre has sent out e-mails to the business community and residents alerting them on the deteriorating air quality and the reason behind it.
We also told them to limit their outdoor activities until the situation clears, she added.