Brunei — Bandar Seri Begawan – Forest and bush fires have already destroyed a total of 298.65 hectares of land this year, according to the latest statistics from the Fire and Rescue Department.
The department to date has received a total of 296 calls reporting forest and bush fires, with wildfires destroying 157.75 hectares of forest land and devastating 140 hectares of native bushland.
Belait District has been the hardest hit by wildfire, with 137.98 hectares of vegetated land destroyed by fire. BruneiMuara District was the second-most affected with 66 reports of forest fires and 54 reports of bush fires, altogether destroying a total of 103.84 hectares of land.
Meanwhile, the Fire and Rescue Department in Tutong District received 49 calls reporting wildfires destroying a total of 53.83 hectares of land. The least-affected district was Temburong, with only three hectares of land destroyed by fire.
Comparatively, from January to June last year a total of 458.33 hectares of land was affected by wildfires.
So far this year, fires have already surpassed half that amount. According to the department, among the major causes of forest and bush fires are the improper disposal of lit cigarettes and open burning.
Another major reason cited was the hot dry weather the country has been experiencing since early February.
A call to the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Station’s weatherline confirmed that the country has received little respite from dry weather over the past two months.
An officer from the Meteorological Station, who asked not to be named, said that Brunei is currently experiencing fine weather with less rain compared with last year.
The officer declined to comment whether or not this was caused by any major shifts in the climate.
The Fire and Rescue Department advises the public not to practice or participate in any activity that includes open burning in the interest of preventing forest and bush fires.
The department also advised smokers to make sure that their cigarettes are put out before throwing them away in a safe place, away from dry bushes.
In order to avoid accidents, those driving past forest or bush fires are advised to be careful as smoke from the fire could block or disturb their vision while driving.
In doing their part to reduce and prevent wildfires, Fire and Rescue personnel are currently patrolling areas prone to forest or bush fires so they will be able to respond quickly to any outbreaks of fire and prevent it from spreading.
They are also patrolling neighbourhoods to make sure that no open burning is being practised by the public, especially those near forests and bushland.