Indonesia — Authorities in South Sumatra are being warned to prepare for the annual outbreak of forest fires as hot weather prevails throughout the province, indicating the shift between wet and dry seasons, an official says.
Bambang Oetoyo, Head of the Forest and Land Fire Control unit at the provincial forestry office, said by phone Wednesday that his office had recorded almost 100 hotspots, or areas of concentrated heat vulnerable to fires, in South Sumatra so far this year. He said the Aqua/Teraa Modis satellite recorded a surge in hotspots in March, identifying more than 50 despite observing just seven and six danger zones respectively in January and February.
“We recorded 31 hotspots in April. The weather conditions have harshened on the whole,” said Bambang.
The regions under the most threat, with 12 identified hotspots, are located in Ogan Komering Ilir regency. The Muara Enim regency has 7, followed by Musi Banyuasin (6), Lahat (2), and one in both Banyuasin, Musi Rawas, Ogan Komering Ulu and Lubuklinggau.
“Actually, four areas – Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin – are particularly prone to peat and forest fires. Peat land is highly combustible during the dry weather,” said Bambang.
The dry weather this year is predicted to stretch longer than in past years. Given such conditions, authorities must anticipate the likelihood of forest fires. Authorities have urged residents and estate companies to avoid using fires to clear land areas.
Observation section head of the Palembang Meteorology and Geophysical, Agency Agus Santosa, said the hot weather in South Sumatra currently has reached 43 degrees Celsius during the day and 27 degrees at night. This weather, he said, was common during the shift from the wet to dry seasons.