Malaysia — The prolonged dry spell has caused a major concern among firefighters and members of the public here as they feared that it could trigger more bush and peat fires in the state, which has the biggest peat swamps in the peninsula.
To compound the matter, most peat swamps have also dried up, exposing them to natural fire which could easily spread to other areas and last for weeks.
Hundreds of fire and rescue department personnel have been deployed and worked around-the-clock to douse the fires at numerous locations in the state, which had destroyed large tracts of forests, particularly at the dried-up peat swamps.
Villagers staying in the vicinity have been forced to remain indoors as thick smokes have also blanketed the area during strong wind and had reduced the visibility in certain areas.
Fisherman Salman Mamat, 33, said he was worried the bush and peat fires would also cause haze and illnesses.
“Although we are yet to face a water crisis, the bush fire is giving us sleepless nights. One day the situation is improving, then suddenly we hear new hot spots are discovered. The smoke have also irritated our eyes,” he said when met in Penor here today.
Meanwhile, a fire and rescue spokesman said the situation near the Pahang Agricultural Development Corporation(LKPP) plantation along Jalan Kuantan-Pekan was under control.
“We have managed to prevent the peat fire from spreading further into the LKPP oil palm plantation. The tube wells dug by the Minerals and Geoscience Department has also helped to contain the fire from getting worse.
“The department are now relying on 38 hoses, measuring 100 metres each, to put out the fire. Some 70 personnel are deployed on a daily basis to help with the efforts there,” he said.
He said the number of bush and peat fires throughout the state had escalated and the department expected the scenario to continue during the ongoing drought season.
“We cannot bring the bush and peat fires to a complete stop but are doing our best to control them. The thick smoke has also deteriorated the air quality in several housing settlements nearby,” he said.