Pekanbaru, Riau Province — Weather satellite in Sumatra detected at least 40 hot spots in Dumai and Rokan Hilir districts, Riau Province, a spokesman of Pekanbaru Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, Slamet Riayadi, said here Monday.
The hot spots were coming from forest areas which were being opened for farming and plantation areas by the local people by setting fire, he said.
Due to the forest fires from Dumai and Rokan Hilir, Pekanbaru was currently covered by haze, he added.
“Given the movement of wind toward northeast, Pekanbaru will continue to be covered by smog from Dumai and Rokan Hillir until several coming days,” he said.
However, the haze has not disturbed airplane flights because the sight distance is still more than two kilometers in the morning and afternoon, he added.
Slamet Riayadi believed that soon other cities such as Pelalawan, Siak and Duri will also be affected by haze.
Last week, schools in Duri were temporarily closed due to haze from forest fires.
Forest fires occur almost every year in Indonesia mainly due to drought and illegal opening of plantations. Most of the fires were started deliberately, some by individual farmers hoping to plant a few crops under the jungle canopy, others by commercial plantations cashing in on demand for rubber and palm oil.
Setting fire to the land is the quickest, cheapest way of clearing land. Any other method in the former tropical forests of Indonesia is much more difficult.