Peat fire in oil palm plantation

Peat fire in oil palm plantation

28 February 2014

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Malaysia — ATEAM of firemen from the Bandar Penawar fire station, here, has been carrying out an operation to contain a peat soil fire at an oil palm plantation in Kampung Lepau.

The station’s officer in charge, Mohd Fadli Ismail, said the fire affected an area of about 6.07ha.

He said a fire engine with six firemen was first deployed to the scene last Monday after an emergency call was received from the public at about 9.52am.

He added that a fire engine with seven personnel from the Felda Tunggal volunteer fire and rescue team was also assisting in the operation.

“We have yet to identify the owners of the plantation which is divided into several sections. The cause of fire is also not known, but it could be due to the current hot weather,” said Fadli.

The plantation is located about three kilometres from the nearest residential area and about seven kilometres from Pengerang.

“Our station is about 30km away, so we are working in shifts between 8am and 6pm. There is no operation at night,” said Fadli, adding that no injuries were reported to date, while the loss was estimated to be about RM30,000.

Fadli said an underground well dug up by the state Minerals and Geoscience Department provided the firemen with water to put out the fire.

“It will take some time for the fire to be put out as this is a peat soil area, which absorbs water more slowly,” he said.

“While the flame is not intense, the fire has caused heavy smoke in the area.”

Kota Tinggi police chief Superintendent Rahmat Othman said there have been no reports lodged over the incident.

“Peat soil fire has been common in the area over the past 10 years,” he said, adding that Kampung Lepau has about 40 residents and most of the plantations are privately owned.

Meanwhile, the state Minerals and Geoscience Department’s senior geologist, Hasnida Zabidi, said the department planned to dig another tube well in the village next month to extract water from the bedrock.

“It is to add on the water supply to the existing 106-metre tube well that was built in 2013 as part of the national-level peat soil fire prevention effort,” she said.

The optimum yield for water extraction from the tube well is about 22,000 litres per hour.

“The tube well will pump water immediately into the nearby ditch so it could be used by the Fire and Rescue Department.

“As the tube well extracts groundwater from the bedrock, the extraction process is not affected by the hot weather,” she said.

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