Malaysia — Firemen and volunteer fire-fighting teams nationwide have been placed on alert in view of the prolonged hot spell in the country.
We had a total of 19 hotspots nationwide in January but the figure this month is 131, said Fire and Rescue Department director-general (operations) Amer Yusof.
During the past 24 hours alone, we have received satellite images showing at least six hotspots nationwide, with two each in Pahang and Sabah and one each in Sarawak and Johor, he said yesterday.
Amer said that most of the hotspots had been put out, with only about 91ha of peat soil and an oil palm plantation in Sedili Kecil in Johor still burning.
In Malacca, firefighters had their hands full tackling more than 250 bush fires in the past two months.
State department deputy assistant director R. Ezhumalai said that more than half the fires were in the Melaka Tengah district. Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries or serious property damage, he said.
The department usually dealt with fewer than 40 bush fires a month but this had increased dramatically since January due to the dry spell, with 88 cases reported in the month and 165 cases so far in February.
Ezhumalai also said there was sufficient water supply from hydrants and rivers for fire-fighting operations.
Last week, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam assured residents that taps would not run dry as there was sufficient water at the Durian Tunggal Dam in Alor Gajah and Jus Dam in Jasin to meet the states daily need of 103 million litres.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Departments weather stations in Subang and Petaling Jaya in Selangor recorded high temperatures of 33.9°C, while Sepang was only slightly cooler with a maximum temperature of 33.4°C.
Selangor received isolated rain over coastal areas in the morning and afternoon. A department spokesperson attributed the high temperatures to brief spells of rain compared with longer rainfall during the inter-monsoon period.
He added that the weather was expected to remain hot until the end of March.
Temperatures along the west and east coasts remained high, with 36.8°C recorded in Alor Setar and 32.4°C in Kuantan.
However, isolated afternoon thunderstorms in Kuching kept the maximum temperature down to a relatively cool 30.4°C.