Fireman spraying one of the hotspot areas in Kuala Baram yesterday.

MIRI: A peat soil fire is destroying some 50 hectares of land adjacent to Hamidah Welfare Complex here and efforts are being carried out to put out the remaining hotspots, revealed Miri Fire and Rescue department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.

Law was met yesterday morning in the vicinity of the complex, monitoring and facilitating his men in battling the blaze at the hotspot.

An aerial view of the affected area in Kuala Baram.
Exhausted firemen taking their lunch break.
Fireman spraying one of the hotspot areas in Kuala Baram yesterday.

Hamidah Welfare Complex is located about 3km from Tudan watch tower and 20km from the city centre. The complex houses nearly 50 less fortunate children (Muslims and non-Muslims).

Currently, there are eight children and five staff at the complex while the rest have gone back to their respective homes for the school holiday.

Yesterday, for the first time, 14 days since the peat soil fire and haze started, a very fine drizzle occurred for about 15 to 30 minutes in Kuala Baram.

“Finally! It helped improve the heavily polluted and unhealthy air smothering this area,” said Law.

He hoped the rain could put out some of the flames.

In yesterday’s operation, assistance was pouring in to help Bomba battle the blaze.

Landowners near the area sent several excavators to help dig trenches and fire breaks at the hotspot near
Hamidah Complex.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading for ILP Miri at noon yesterday was 361(hazardous) while in SK Kuala Baram 2, the reading was 270 (unhealthy).

Meanwhile, the firemen have been working non-stop battling the peat soil fires since day one.

“They have been working 24/7, dousing the fires and battling the fires at the hotspots,” said Law.

On Tuesday, Sarawak Bomba director Khirudin Drahman disclosed that 15 firemen from Kuching had been sent to Miri to help their colleagues here.

Yesterday, during a brief visit to the site, New Sarawak Tribune managed to talk to some of the firemen who were the frontliners in battling the peat soil fire.

Sariewin Mudim, 23, is a young firefighter who joined the service two years ago.

Originating from Kota Marudu in Sabah, Miri is his first posting as a fireman.

“Yes, it is indeed a very dangerous job but also extremely rewarding, because we get the chance to rescue people,” he said.

Asked about the challenges that he and his fellowmen were facing while battling the peat soil fires, he said, ”Of course, we are exhausted.

“There are risks the moment we enter the hotspot areas. Apart from the blaze or smokes coming from the area, we also have to be careful about the venomous reptiles in the soil.”