684 ha on fire in last 11 days

MIRI: A total of 684 hectares of lands in Kuala Baram area have been burned in forest fires since August 1, disclosed Miri Fire and Rescue department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.

The persistent blaze that occurred for the past 11days has blanketed most parts of Kuala Baram and Miri areas in thick haze resulting in unhealthy air quality in some areas.

“Today (August 11), 70 hectares of land in the area are still burning…this size of land is equivalent to 200 football fields, destroyed by the peat fires,” Law said.

Ting (front) and Law at the Tudan Watch tower

Thick haze shrouding Kuala Baram.

He disclosed this when met by a group of local media at Tudan watch tower yesterday.

“We are in dire need of additional manpower, at least 100 volunteers, from other agencies and machineries to help battle the blaze which is causing haze problem at the area for the past 11 days,” he added.

Law explained that heavy machineries were needed to help build trenches and fire breaks within the affected areas.
He hoped more private companies here could lend them machineries to help contain the peat fires.

“Because of the dry weather, we are persistently battling the blaze, and today we have detected at least 40 hotspots in the Kuala Baram area,” he said.

“We are praying for rain to improve the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading and the haze,” he added.
Law also revealed that currently they (Bomba Miri) could not perform aerial fire-fighting, after a helicopter of the Bomba Air Unit was damaged. On Saturday(Aug 10) ILP (Indutsrial Training Institute) Miri in Kuala Baram recorded the worst API reading at 390.

Kuala Baram is located about 14km from Miri city. Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting also visited the site yesterday.

Law shows the API reading at ILP Miri which recorded 380 as at 12pm yesterday.

“The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas will hold a meeting to discuss on the issue this Wednesday,” revealed Ting.

He also called on the federal government to help resolve the issue.

“We would like to see federal ministers coming here (Miri) to see the situation, as Miri is the second worst hit by haze with readings reaching 390 API after Selangor. It is a serious matter,” Ting stressed.

He commended the firemen and Naim’s fire team for their continuous efforts in battling the peat soil fires.
He also advised people living within the affected areas to
stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities.