Wednesday, February 19

Hot weather causes peat areas to burn again


Law (centre) with other Bomba personnel pose for a group photo after a long day of work yesterday.

MIRI: The hot weather here over the past few days has reignited fires at several areas of peat soil in Kuala Baram, emanating thick smoke.

Zone 6 Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) chief Law Poh Kiong said patches of fire near the Miri Industrial Training Institute (ILP) had also contributed to the spike in Air Pollutant Index (API) at the ILP Miri station, recording a hazardous level of 412 as at 6pm yesterday.

“The scorching heat over these past few days has caused most peat areas (in Kuala Baram) where fire had subsided to start burning again with thick smoke.  Patches of fire near the ILP has also caused the API reading to rise high today (yesterday),” he told The Borneo Post.

“This is the highest API reading since we started the water bombing operation,” he added.

According to Law, the Fire and Rescue Department with assistance from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) combated forest, bush and peat soil fires in Kuala Baram yesterday through a variety of ways.

“We have performed direct attacks using ground group for highways, Sector 1 and Sector 2 near the Hamidah Welfare Complex.

“Meanwhile, water bombings using Bomba helicopters were conducted at Sector 1 near ILP and MMEA Bombardier aircraft at the forests in Sector 3 at Lot 4041 and Lot 4042. We also did total flooding by sand pumps in Sector 3,” he said.

Law further said that water bombings by the department’s Mi-17 helicopters were conducted at Sector 2 behind ILP Miri, dropping 53,400 litres of water through two sorties.

Meanwhile, water bombings using the MMEA Bombardier aircraft were conducted at Sector 3 in Lot 4041, dropping 246,000 litres of water over an area of 6.7 per square kilometres in two sorties.

“The effectiveness of fire extinguishing at Sector 3 is 50 per cent. Hotspots in Sector 2 were controlled.

“Meanwhile, hotspots in Sector 3 are increasing and smoke in this sector has gotten thicker,” he added.

During the operation yesterday, Bomba personnel from Lopeng Fire and Rescue Station managed to put out bushfires in front of South Lake.

Firefighters from Miri Fire and Rescue Station also managed to put out a bushfire at Kampung Siwak Jaya in Bakam, which razed about 0.5 acres of bush at a field there.

The scorching heat and the hazardous air quality have resulted in the closure of two schools here yesterday – SK Kuala Baram 2 and SJK (C) Chung Hua Tudan near ILP Miri.

As of 5pm yesterday, API readings of 224 (very unhealthy) and 97 (moderate) were recorded at SK Kuala Baram 2 and Miri stations respectively.