Tuesday, January 21

Teams confident can totally douse fire, smoke by today


Teh (centre) addresses reporters at the press conference as Law (right) and Bombardier CL415 pilot cum MMEA operation chief Lieutenant Commander (M) Muhammad Saad look on.

MIRI: The multi agencies involved in fire fighting in Kuala Baram are confident that they would be able to douse the fire and smoke once and for all by today (Aug 20) as only 10 per cent of the 1,248ha affected are still actively emanating smoke.

At a press conference here yesterday, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) state director First Admiral (Maritime) Robert Teh Geok Chuan said water bombing carried out by the Bombardier CL-415 aircraft at Sector 3 was successful in extinguishing the smoke and fire at the forest area which had resulted in the drop in Air Pollutant Index (API).

“The aircraft today (Monday) managed to do a total of 50 runs and dumped about 300,000 litres of water in two sorties covering an area of 6.7km square,” Teh said.

He added that after yesterday’s operation, only 10 per cent of the area in Sector 3 was still emanating smoke.

As for the ground teams comprising personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) and Naim’s volunteers, Teh said both teams were doing well in their respective areas – Sector 1 and Sector 2.

“Bomba were putting out fire and smoke at Sector 1 and what is left now is only about two acres of land still emanating smoke,” he said.

Bomba personnel putting out smoke at Sector 1 yesterday.

The team from Naim, on the other hand, which was tasked to carry out direct attack and total flooding at Sector 2 reported that only five acres of land were still emanating smoke which will be tackled today.

Teh added that all three agencies – MMEA using the Bombardier, Bomba and Naim will resume their operation today (Aug 20).

“We will continue the operation tomorrow (Tuesday) and hope that the fire will be completely doused in the next one or two days. I would like to advise the public to stop doing open burning,” he said.

A total of 12 Bomba personnel, 25 volunteers from Naim and 24 personnel from MMEA were involved in yesterday’s operation.

As of Aug 19, a total of 1,248ha of peat soil land and forest in Kuala Baram had been destroyed in the fire which started on Aug 1.

Meanwhile, the API reading at all three stations here yesterday showed moderate air quality.

Miri Industrial Training Institute (ILP Miri) recorded an API of 95 at 6pm, while it was 69 at SK Kuala Baram 2 and 56 in Miri.

An API reading of zero to 50 is good, 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy and 301 and above is hazardous.

Present at the press conference yesterday was Zone 6 Fire and Rescue station chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.