Wildfires affecting air quality in Sarawak

Wildfires affecting air quality in Sarawak

11 June 2009

published by thestar.com.my

Malaysia — Wildfires have been detected in several districts in the southern division of Miri, affecting the air quality in Sarawak.

Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Sherumie Ali said his department has deployed firefighters for round-the-clock duties.

Danger zone: A peat fire burning in Kuala Baram in northern Sarawak. Peat fires are much harder to put out as the fires burn underground and Kuala Baram is one of the more problematic areas in Sarawak.“We have also started night patrols. Some of the fires have become peat fires as they have gone underground due to the dry conditions.

“We have been receiving many calls from the public informing us about fires near their housing areas. We will try to put out the fires quickly so that they will not burn into the ground,” he said.

Sherumie said that once peat soil caught fire, it would be very difficult to put out.

He said the Kuala Baram district was the most problematic area because the burning often occurred at night.

In Kota Kinabalu, the air quality was reported to be good despite the dry spell thanks to occasional showers and thunderstorms.

A state Department of Environment spokesman said the Air Pollutant Index (API) for the state was acceptable and there was no haze.

The API reading for major towns Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau was between 30 and 31 as at 11am yesterday.

“The API condition is considered good,” he said, explaining that the interior Keningau was at 51, which was considered moderate. The department, he said, would keep monitoring the API situation in Keningau.

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