— Miri is on bush fire alert after nearly 30 hectares of open land in its northern surburbs of Tudan and Kuala Baram were burnt over the last two weeks.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan today said the bush fires could have been ignited by certain people who illegally used the land for small-scale farming and measures had been taken to prevent them from continuing the activity.
The bushfires could pose a danger to other people as they were located near one of the city’s most densely-populated areas, he told a news conference after chairing the Miri divisional disaster management committee meeting here.
Dr Chan, who is also the state disaster management chairman, said that personnel from the state’s Land and Survey Department and the Natural Resources and Environment Board would be deployed to prevent further encroachment on the open land.
The Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) had been directed to block drains within the area to raise the water table to moisten the peat soil in the area, he said.
As the Meteorological Department had forecast that dry weather would continue to persist within the city over the next few weeks, he urged all residents here to refrain from open burning.
Dr Chan said the Fire and Rescue Department was short of manpower to deal with all the bushfires and urged other agencies as well as private companies within Tudan and Kuala Baram to complement the efforts to combat the disaster.
He added that the department would also station a portable water tender near the affected areas, about 30km from the city’s fire station.