Forest Fires continue to ravage east and central Java

Forest Fires Continue to Ravage East and Central Java

01 October 2012

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Indonesia–  Forest fires that have razed the Arjuno Mountain in East Java during the past month have burned hundreds of hectares of forest land in the Pasuruan and Malang districts. The blazes have now spread to Batu city and the Mojokerto district.

New hotspots were detected in Block Nggabes, forest areas in Tulungrejo and Giripuro, and villages in the Bumiaji subdistrict in Kota Batu.

Gatot Sundoro, the head of the R. Soerjo Forest Park Malang-Pasuruan division, told reporters that the fires have burned an estimated 800 hectares of forest in Pasuruan, Malang, Kota Batu and Mojokerto. Some of the fires in Lawang and Pasuruan have started to diminish but some have also spread, moving westward and southward.

Gatot said that he and his men were having difficulties containing the fires that were spreading to the touristic city of Batu due to visibility problems from the thick smoke. He added that he could only pray that the fire in Nggabes doesn’t spread farther.

Meanwhile, fires also burned 2.5 hectares of teak forest in Pemangku Hutan Resort (RPH) in Malang from Thursday night until Friday. The forest is located next to Jalan Raya Karangkates, the border of the districts of Malang and Blitar. The forest fire is believed to have stemmed from a fire that was intentionally lit by an irresponsible person in the area.

“It seems like somebody had intentionally [set] fire to the bushes near the road,” said Agus Salim, head of the RPH Sukowilangun, on Friday night.

Although there were no casualties or material losses caused by the fire, the condition of the teak trees worsened.

“The land that got burned had actually been given fertilizer. [The fire] is causing the land’s contour and fertility [to] become [limited].” he said.

RPH officers were forced to contain the fire manually using tree branches.

“It’s difficult to extinguish it with water. The way to do it is by hitting it with branches,” Agus said. He was relieved that he and his men were able to extinguish the fire by midday on Friday.

Meanwhile, in Karanganyar, Central Java, more than 500 hectares of forests and tree nurseries burned on the slopes of Mount Lawu.

Aji Pratama, head of the Karanganyar Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the extremely dry conditions and strong winds helped to spread the fires and made it difficult for firefighters to douse them.

“It’s not just the brush and shrubs that are getting burned, but also trees, especially pines,” he said.




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