75% of Malaysia at risk of fire

75% of Malaysia at risk of fire

14 July 2009

published by thestar.com.my

Malaysia —

Some three-quarters of the country has been categorised as high-risk areas for fires and at least four peat fires have been reported in Selangor.

According to the Meteorological Department’s Fire Danger Rating System, the ignition potential of many parts of the country — from Selangor southwards, large sections of Pahang, the coastal areas of Terengganu and Kelantan, south Perak, the western half of Sarawak and east of Sabah — were extreme.

A department spokesperson said the areas listed as extreme could easily catch fire and would require “very strict enforcement” as well as high public awareness.

“If the Fine Fuel Moisture Code is red, it means a fire can easily start if someone drops a match. We must be careful not to conduct burning in a red area as fire can spread fast,” she said.

Besides human-induced fires, she said fires could also be caused by lightning but it was unlikely due to Malaysia’s humid climate.

The code, which is a numerical rating of the moisture content of litter and other cured fine fuels (such as grass, bushes and dried leaves), is used as an indicator of ignition potential or the potential for fires to start and spread in the area.

It is affected by temperature, relative humidity, rainfall and wind speed.

Although many parts of the country could catch fire easily, the spokesperson said there was no cause for alarm as the intensity of the fires would only range from low to moderate.

According to the Fire Weather Index, about 80% of the country fall in the low and moderate range.

Fires of low intensity are self-extinguishing, while moderate fires can easily be suppressed with a hose.

Those in the high range would require a power pump to be extinguished.

Some parts of Selangor fell in the extreme category, with Fire and Rescue Department deputy director (operations) Abdul Razak Muda confirming there were fires in four areas — Kampung Batu 9, Jalan Kebun, Klang, Pulau Kempas and Bestari Jaya.

“Only the fire in Bestari Jaya has been put out completely. We believe that the fires were caused by farmers who carried out open burning,” he said.

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