Indonesian Reaction: Authorities unsure when fires will be put out

Indonesian Reaction:Authorities unsure when fires will be put out

10 August 2005

publishedby NewStraits Time

BLANKET OF HAZE: The city centre as seen from the 26th floor of Maybank Building. Pix taken by Ray Lee who works there. BAD: The hazy condition surrounding Jalan Raja Laut, taken at 3pm by NST pixman Amiruddin Sahib GETTING FROM BAD TO WORSE: The haze that has enveloped Klang Valley. Picture taken at Sunway Lagoon. NST Pix by Roslin Mat Tahir. (pictures taken from New Straits Time – Picture of the Day)  

Indonesian authorities are uncertain when the numerous fires raging in Kalimantan and Sumatra will be put out.

Hundreds of Indonesian firemen are fighting fires, caused by the clearing of peat land, in at least 57 areas in Kalimantan and 10 in Aceh.

Hermono Sigit, the assistant deputy head of Land and Forest Degradation Control in Indonesia’s Environment Ministry, said poor access to the affected areas had constrained fire-fighting efforts.

He told the New Straits Times today, firemen were also facing difficulties finding water to fight the fires, due to dry weather.

The fact that peat fires, once ignited, are hard to control and almost impossible to put out, have worsened the situation.

Asked how long it would take to extinguish the fires, Hermono said: “It all depends on access to the area and availability of water.

“In some places, it has not been raining for the past two weeks, making them more fire-prone.”

Despite total mobilisation of fire-fighters at the national and sub-district levels, Harmono said, the ministry was concerned about the fires, particularly in Kalimantan.

“There has been no rain there for so long and the fires are quite serious,” he said.

Satellite data detected hundreds of hotspots in the two areas.

The fires are worst in the Kapuas Hulu, Sambas, Bengkayang, Ketapang and Landak districts in Kalimantan and in the Aceh Besar district in Sumatra.

Although many fires had been put out over the past few days, the authorities were struggling to douse the larger, more serious ones, he said.

Most of these fires were on peat land in very remote areas, Hermono added.

In the past week, fires have been detected in many provinces of Riau, north Sumatra and central, east and west Kalimantan.

The resulting smoke was transported to Peninsular Malaysia by the prevailing southwesterly winds, cloaking Kuala Lumpur, Sepang, Port Kelang, Shah Alam, Putrajaya, Kajang, Nilai and Seremban in haze.


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