Malaysia — A total of 146 bush and forest fires were reported throughout Sabah from January to April this year.
Sabah Fire and Rescue Department Director, Khirudin Drahman said from the total number of cases this year, 97 were reported in April.
“We received seven reports of forest fires and 90 bush fires in April, compared to three bush fires in January, two forest fires and 19 bush fires in February as well as one forest fire and 24 bush fires in March,” he said.
Khirudin told reporters this at a press conference after an assembly at the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department headquarters at Jalan Lintas, Tuesday.
The assembly was held in conjunction with the department’s World Fire-fighter’s Day celebration.
He said the sharp incline in fires reported in April was most likely due to the dry weather spell throughout the month.
Khirudin said the dry weather gave farmers the opportunity to clear their land by burning the unwanted vegetation around their fields.
“The weather recently has been very hot and dry and this probably gave farmers the opportunity to do some clearing on their fields.
“However, as pure as their intentions may be, what they should have done first was inform the Environmental Department or the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department before they start their burning,” he said.
Khirudin said that many of them (farmers) only reported the fires when the blazes became too big and out of control.
“Don’t wait until the fires become big and out of control before alerting us.
Inform us before starting the fires, that way we can help them to take preventive measures to ensure the fires don’t get out of hand,” he said.
Towards this end, Khirudin urged the public to be mindful of fire hazards and to always take steps to prevent fires.