MIRI: Aerial water-bombing together with ground attacks were carried out yesterday to extinguish the remaining peat fires in Kuala Baram, with fires across 615 acres put out as of 4pm.
The two-pronged approach came after readings at two of the three Air Pollutant Index (API) stations here on Aug 17 showed the air quality had returned to unhealthy levels.
The Bombardier CL-415 aircraft belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency began the operation at 9.30am, dumping 204,000 litres of water at Sector 3.
Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Miri chief Law Poh Kiong in a statement yesterday said ground teams were deployed to sectors 1 and 2 to put out fires there.
“Volunteers from Naim carried out total flooding at Sector 2 and also attacking the fires at the same sector. A team from Bomba carried out attacks in Sector 1.
“Another Bomba team also successfully put out grass fires which occurred very close to SK Kuala Baram 2,” he said.
Despite the aerial and ground attacks, the air quality recorded at ILP Miri station remained unhealthy with a reading of 160 as of 5pm yesterday.
The API readings at the SK Kuala Baram 2 and Miri stations showed moderate air quality, at 83 and 60 respectively, as of 5pm yesterday.
The aerial water bombing is scheduled to be carried out again today, targeting the forest between Lot 4041 and 4042 in Sector 3 which cannot be reached by ground teams.
Meanwhile, with schools reopening today after a week-long break, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin said some 20,000 face masks will be distributed in schools, especially those in Kuala Baram, Tudan, Permyjaya and his constituency of Senadin.
“The Disaster Management Committee will liaise with the Education Department (on closure of schools) should the API reading rise in any of these three stations,” he said.
Under the National Haze Management Plan’s standard operating procedure, all schools in haze-hit areas will be closed if the API reading breaches 200.