Forest fires in six States

Forest fires in six States

19 September 2005

published by NewStraits Times

For two weeks now, firemen have been battling raging forest and peat fires in Johor, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Sarawak.

The fires, caused by the dry spell, have contributed to the haze over the Klang Valley and some parts of peninsular Malaysia.

Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre satellite reports have detected 90 hot spots in Sumatra, 102 in Kalimantan, and seven in peninsular Malaysia, namely in Johor, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor and Pahang, yesterday. The satellite also detected nine hotspots in Sarawak.

The Air Pollution Index today showed 26 stations showing “moderate” levels: Kangar (Perlis), Seri Manjung (Perak), Gombak, Port Klang, Petaling Jaya, Kajang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor (Selangor), Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Nilai and Seremban (Negri Sembilan), Bukit Rambai (Malacca), Muar (Johor), Jerantut and Balok Baru (Pahang).

Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Sarikei, Samarahan, Kapit, and Petra Jaya in Sarawak, and Tawau, Keningau and Sandakan in Sabah are also recording “moderate” levels.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Director (Operations) Nor Hisham Mohammad said firemen had been stationed at the Elite Highway for more than two weeks to put out fires on state reserve and privately owned land.

“There is thick smoke billowing from the site due to total flooding to contain the spread,” he said, adding that firemen were stationed at the site to combat the fire.

Firemen were also kept busy for the past week trying to contain a 12ha peat fire at Parit 8, Sungai Besar. It is learnt that farmers burning padi stubble had caused the fire to spread to the forest.

Nor Hisham said firemen had difficulty putting out the peat fire because their water source was 6km away.

“Eighteen firemen are stationed at the site every day, with three excavators to make fire breaks,” he said, adding that they had asked the Drainage and Irrigation Department for a pump relay. The department is expected to send their personnel tomorrow.

“There are two hotspots, one of six hectares and another of four hectares, that need to be contained,” said Nor Hisham.

He said helicopters were “water-bombing” a 12ha fire at Bukit Tarik in Rasah, Kuala Kubu Bharu,

“The fire has been raging for the past three days and there is no access for firemen. We had to use helicopters,” he said.

DOE deputy director-general Lee Heng Keng today warned that the total ban on open burning imposed on Aug 10 in Klang Valley has not been lifted.

The only exemptions are for cremation, burning of articles as part of religious rites, and outdoor grills and barbecues.

Those doing open burning are liable to a maximum RM500,000 fine or five years’ jail or both under Section 29A(1) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

The department also began cloud-seeding today to help put out fires causing the haze.

By Annie Freeda Cruez


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