By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Sept 19: The forest fire in STC, Sri Aman has spread to as huge as 400 acres today, prompting the Sarawak Fire and Rescue department (Bomba) to deploy a second batch of 32 firefighters from other stations in Kuching to assist in the operations.
State Bomba acting deputy director Tiong Ling Hii said areas affected are STC village (133 acres) and Kelauh (267 acres).
“Efforts to prevent further spread at STC is now being made by creating more ‘fire breaks’ using two excavators, digging of soil to create ‘drainage’ and setting up of ponds to allow firefighters to divert the water from its Prime Mover machinery into the drains and pools,” said Tiong.
He also explained that their operations are currently focusing at STC because there are villages staying very near to the fire site.
For Keluah area, Bomba are now monitoring it by using drones. No immediate action was taken yet as the nearest village is located two kilometres away.
“Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) will conduct the operations staring tomorrow at Kelauh using their Bombardier aircraft.
“As for the operations at Jalan Kejatau-Lingga (200 acres), seven firefighters are currently there putting out the fire and there are three excavators to build fire breaks,” he added.
The Bombardier CL-415 aircraft operations had to postpone yesterday due to low tide in the river, fishing activities and passing boats, which made it difficult and dangerous for the aircraft to fly low and obtain water.
Sarawak Bomba director Khirudin Drahman when contacted also explained that the Bombardier aircraft has to take a break because it has reached its flight time limit and requires compulsory maintenance.
“The aircraft is grounded for today and tomorrow. They will continue the operations in full swing on Saturday and Sunday. We are also asking for emergency assistance from other agencies in this matter.
“We must ensure that we can knock out this fire as soon as possible. The combination of local and imported smog is very bad and people are unable to tolerate anymore,” Khirudin said.
He also urged relevant authorities such as Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) to investigate and charge irresponsible individuals or companies who have been causing forest, bush and peat fires.
“Our role in Bomba is to put out fire. Our firefighters are so busy containing these fires which some are deliberately set. We cannot go around catching people,” he lamented, adding that it was actually the duty of NREB to do so.
Meanwhile, over in Betong, firefighters are still battling with forest fire for the fourth day at Jalan Tisak, involving some 33 acres of land.
They are assisted with two excavators to create road access and ‘fire breaks’. — DayakDaily