Brunei — The Seria Fire Station was involved in a combined operation withBritish Army helicopters operating out of Seria to extinguish jungle fires thatbroke out Tuesday afternoon.
The fires threatened to destroy the Badas Water Pumping Station that providescooling water vital to the operation of the nearby Lumut Natural Gas facility.
The Seria Fire Station confirmed the fire but did not know what caused it. The fires, however, were allegedly believed to have been started by hunters operating in the area, according to a source at the Brunei Garrison.
The fires grew in intensity and were swept by the wind towards the pumping station. Another helicopter operating in the area that day spotted smoke from the fires and informed the Shell Aviation Department at Anduki, which initiated the response.
Personnel from the Seria Fire Station were immediately dispatched to the scene. They had difficulty reaching the spot because it was away from the road, which led them to seek the help of helicopters to tackle the blaze.
Photo: Aerial view of the forest fire that threatened to destroy the Badas Water Pumping Station. – Courtesy British High Commission
Maj Toby Jarvis, who is in command of the helicopters at Seria, coordinatedthe operation. He said, “We received a call at around 4pm and immediatelytasked FB Heliservices who provide our ground support to prepare the aircraftand fit the Bambi bucket. The Bambi bucket is a collapsible bucket slung below ahelicopter, used to dip water from a variety of sources for fire.
“On this occasion the bucket was used to collect loads of around 1,000litres of water from a nearby river and dispense them directly onto the firesthat were threatening the pumping station. Due to the excellent work of theground staff the aircraft were airborne and over the fires with their firstconsignment of water within an hour,” he added.
The helicopters continued to assist the fire brigade by dropping over 20buckets of water on the fires until around 7pm when the fire died down. Thecooperation of both the fire brigade and the helicopters brought about a swiftend to the situation that could have resulted in severe damage to the pumpingstation, the operation of the gas facility and more importantly possible loss oflife.
According to the Seria Fire Station, fire brigades were still at the sceneyesterday afternoon to ensure that the fire had died down completely.
The helicopter that took part in the fire fighting belongs to 7 Flight ArmyAir Corp and is one of three Bell 212 helicopters operating out of their base inSeria. The helicopter was crewed by Warrant Officer Jan Green, Sergeant Fisherand Lance Corporal Iliavi Tokalua.