Saturday, September 18

Inaccessibility, low water pressure thwart firemen


Forest, bush fires raging unabated as firemen wait for equipment, helicopter to fight them

Photo source from See Hua Daily News

Aruk points to the smoke rising from Mount Jebong in the distance.

KUCHING: Forest fires are raging unabated in Simunjan and on two mountains at Jambusan near Bau while firemen can do little to stop them at the moment.

Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) director Nor Hisham Mohamad said yesterday about 100 acres of forest in Simunjan are ablaze but his men had difficulties in combating the fire due to low water pressure and lack of proper equipment.

He disclosed that they needed a high powered pump but such equipment was now only available at fire stations in Miri.

“We have requested for this equipment to be sent to Simunjan. At the moment we are still testing the pump (in Miri) as we do not want it to malfunction upon arrival at Simunjan,” he said.

“I was made to understand the team will start moving from Miri tomorrow (today),” he added.

Meanwhile, large swathes of forest and bushes on two mountains, Gunung Jebong and Gunung Suong at Jambusan near Bau have been on fire for a week while firemen are unable to do anything as they could not reach the area with their equipment.

Photo source from See Hua Daily News

A photo by Facebook user Redan Lens showing the flames razing the jungle on the mountains at Jambusan.

Residents of Kampung Skiat and several nearby villages who initially were not worried about the blaze are now getting nervous as it is spreading closer to their homes each day.

Villager Aruk Nariet, 63, said the fire started at Mount Jebong sometime last week and had now spread to Mount Soung, which is located only several kilometres from Kampung Skiat.

“It has been nearly a week since it began but the flames seem to be getting bigger each day and has already razed part of the jungle at Mount Soung,” he said when met yesterday.

He added that villagers’ cocoa, rubber and oil palm trees were under threat as their farms are located close to the affected area, which was their hunting ground and provided them with numerous jungle produce.

Aruk dismissed any suggestion that the fire was caused by farmers clearing their land through open burning as they had yet to begin planting hill padi.

The villagers had alerted the Fire and Rescue Services Department (Bomba) but were told that due to the difficulty in reaching the affected area, the department could only monitor the situation for the time being while waiting for the necessary equipment to arrive.

Bomba planned to use the water bomb ferried by the helicopter to combat the fires at Gunung Jebong and Gunung Soung.

The helicopter is expected to arrive from Miri today, Nor Hisham said yesterday.

He pointed out as fire engines could not reach the fire on the mountains, water bombing could be the only solution.

Fortunately there was no settlement near the area affected by fire, he added.

Firemen have been despatched near the scene to monitor the situation and to alert the villagers of any impending danger, he said.