KUCHING: The authorities have resorted to water bombing to extinguish peat fires in Kuala Baram, Miri that have contributed to the alarmingly high reading of Air Pollutant Index (API) in the district. Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak state director First Admiral (Maritime) Robert Teh Geok Chuan revealed that the agency would deploy one of its Bombardier CL-415 aircraft for the mission.
“This is at the request of the state government in helping other departments and agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Department who are currently
deployed at the location,” he said during a press conference at their headquarters here yesterday.
“The operation will also be coordinated together with MMEA Miri along with the Air Operation Division (BOU) in Putrajaya.” Teh disclosed that the aircraft was flown in late last night (Wednesday) from Subang and arrived early this morning (Thursday).
“There will be two sets of crews and we aim to perform at least two sorties each day during the seven-day operation. “Every sortie takes around four hours and we aim to use the full duration of the daylight, which means three sorties from 6am to 6pm.” He pointed out that as the location of the fire is near the sea, it would be easier for the aircraft to refill its 6,000 litres of water payload by scooping the water nearby.
“The area of the peat fire is estimated to be 24 square kilometres and we expect that the fires can be extinguished to improve the poor air quality in the area.” Teh highlighted that the operation is a show of commitment by MMEA to aid in times of disaster and insists that it is not the first time that the agency lends its hand when it comes to
extinguishing peat fires. “Other than that, the Bombardier aircraft is also capable of performing other operations such as search and rescue operation along with offering compassionate flights to ailing patients or body remains,” he added.