Building trenches, plant short-term crops to control peat fires

Lee (centre) fielding questions from the press.

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Aug 15: The state government is looking at getting landowners to build trenches along their land, as well as planting short-term crops, to act as fire breakers.

This could help prevent or control peat fires from spreading, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

The Senadin assemblyman said the state is looking to implement long-term preventive measures to control the spread of forest and peat fires, especially in the Miri Division, following the situation at Kuala Baram in the past two weeks.

“We want to put an end to this crisis, the state is looking into any long-term solutions to tackle recurring peat fires in this division.

“There are two possible suggestions, where we request landowners to build trenches or fire breaks along their land and planting short-term crops,” Lee told a press conference here today after a briefing session with authorities on the peat fire situation at Kuala Baram.

The Fire and Rescue Department’s effort to combat peat fires was strengthened with the arrival of the Super Scooper’ Bombardier C415 belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA),

The northern area has been enveloped by thick smoke following peat soil fires that have been raging for the past 15 days.

Following this, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), with the cooperation of MMEA, decided to bring in the C415, which is widely used in the world for such a purpose, especially in Italy and Canada.

Lee said the state will also look into various approaches to support the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) in battling peat fires.

When asked whether any compounds have been issued relating to open burning that contributed to the peat fires, he said the Miri Department of Environment (DoE) has issued five compounds,

However, he did not disclose the names of the offenders.

MMEA commander Salehuddin Zakaria, Miri Bomba chief Supt Law Poh Kiong and Miri DoE officer Joseph Oyo were present at the briefing. — DayakDaily