SIBU: Efforts to douse the underground fire at the closed Seng Ling dumpsite here will commence today, said Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Sibu acting chief Wan Kamarudin Wan Ahmad.
He said Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) will be assisting Bomba in the operation, after having helped yesterday by deploying its staffers and a water truck to the location.
“The process to dig the site to determine the source of the fire is nearly completed. The digging works were carried out by the contractor appointed by SMC,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
Earlier yesterday, SMC chairman Clarence Ting said it could take longer to put out the fire at the dumpsite as the affected area needed to be dug out and backfilled with earth.
“Because the area is vast, we don’t know long how it will take (to put out the fire). But will do our level best to put out the fire as soon as possible,” he told reporters when met at the site, while urging the public not to enter the area.
The landfill was officially closed in April this year after 18 years in operation, with the area handed back to the Land and Survey Department.
Following the closure, a trench was dug across the access road to the landfill to stop vehicles from entering the area.
It was reported that in early March this year, some 32 people from six families, including six children, who were squatting at the landfill were made homeless after the area caught fire.
Meanwhile, Ting said SMC had on Tuesday discussed with the Land and Survey Department on taking over the site, due to the area being unmanaged coupled with the presence of squatters – believed to number about 50 currently.
“Hopefully, we can get control of the site again so that we can reduce incidence of fire like this again. We have already drafted a letter and sent it to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing asking for such permission (to take back the management of the site).”
He also disclosed that the all the land leading up to the site are private property.
On the presence of squatters, he said unless the land owners were to make an official complaint to the Land and Survey Department, the police are unable to enter to remove them.
“This has nothing to do with SMC,” he added.
He also mentioned that although the cause of the fire is unknown, the squatters whom he had spoken to claimed it was due to some aerosol cans exploding.
Meanwhile, a squatter there told reporters that she noticed smoke emerging at the site on Oct 4 and notified both the Fire and Rescue Department and SMC.
However, according to her, firemen could not enter the site due to the dug-out access road.